COVID-19: Hard-up people along coast lacking awareness
Publish- April 23, 2020, 06:45 PM
UNB NEWS - UNB NEWS
Update- April 23, 2020, 07:05 PM
In a recent survey of people living in the country’s coastal belt, almost half the respondents (49%) said they have no clear idea about the primary protective measures against Covid-19.
Besides, three quarters (74%) said they don't know about IEDCR or what they do.
COAST Trust, a non-government organization working in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, conducted COVID-19 Awareness and Practices Survey 2020 to gauge awareness among the low-income earners living in the coastal belt regarding the coronavirus, said Executive Director of the organisation Rezaul Karim Chowdhury.
Monitoring and Research department of the COAST Trust conducted the survey among the low-income people in Cox's Bazar and Bhola districts through Random Sampling Method.
Rezaul said the basic objective of the survey was to assess the primary knowledge of the coastal poor and how they are complying with the health directives.
Among the responders of the survey, 47% were women and 53% were men. Among the female, 80% were housewives and the rest included students, drop out adolescents and elderly. Among the male participants, 10% were farmers, 18% labor, 19% small entrepreneurs and 13% fishers.
Rohingya refugee crisis-affected Cox's Bazar and island district Bhola
were selected for this survey while two small islands in the Bay of Bengal Kutubdia of Cox’s Bazar and Char Motahar of Bhola were also included.
COVID-19 mainly spreads through hand contact and that's why World Health Organization stressed washing hands properly. Despite massive awareness campaigns across the country it was found that 49% of the responders don't know the basic rules of hand washing. 43% said they are not able to follow those rules for different reasons including less availability of soaps all the time, the survey says.
Some 26% of the responders have misconceptions on how the virus spreads. Among them, 53% are not fully aware of the primary symptoms of the disease. When asked about sneezing and coughing etiquette, 64% mentioned using tissue, napkin or elbow. The rest 36% said they had no idea about it.
Almost all of the housewives said that they didn't directly have access to information on COVID19. They had to depend on the family members who go outside.
The survey showed it is hardly possible for the lower wage earners to stay at home. Among them, 37% of respondents said they go to the market once a week. The majority ( 63%) go to the market every two or three days for buying food. Some 24% have no idea about social distancing.
According to the survey, 66% responders said that the number of devotees in the mosque is reduced to avoid the COVID-19 infection. Only 28% said the mosques in their area are following the government health directives. 56% responders don't know about 'Home Quarantine' or have misconception about it. 13% don't know why one should use mask.
By analyzing the survey findings, Monitoring and Research department of COAST said a normal mask available in those areas costs Tk30- 40, which is hardly affordable for the lower income people. The small entrepreneurs have to go to the market every day to sell their products. They desperately need finance which is not available now since the microfinance operation is closed.
The survey report proposed 11 point recommendations including, Testing facility in the coastal districts to be increased, NGOs and other organizations including religious persons and institutions should be included in awareness raising and information dissemination, Microfinance should be reopened to be able to finance the small entrepreneurs and initiatives to be taken to transport their products by following proper protective health measures. It is also important for the consumers across the country.