The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has completed the first 12 of 100 community clinics under construction in Cox’s Bazar, as part of a joint effort with the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank to expand access to health care.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Bangladesh has boosted national health care programmes and launched comprehensive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination operations, which IOM supported in Cox’s Bazar and other parts of the country,” said Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque on Sunday.
“We are now working together to ensure the healthcare system reaches the doorstep of every person. The inauguration of the newly constructed community clinics in Cox’s Bazar is one of many government interventions to achieve this goal.”
Access to basic infrastructure and services in the southernmost part of the country, where Bangladesh hosts around 1 million Rohingya refugees, were already much lower compared to the national average. Many of the existing health facilities were built two decades ago and have since suffered infrastructural damage caused by flooding and other natural hazards.
IOM demolished the old clinics and constructed larger, environmentally sustainable buildings that include solar-powered systems, safe water supply and improved sanitation facilities.
“The multidimensional needs of refugee and host communities requires strong partnerships between key humanitarian and development actors to simultaneously tackle immediate and long-term challenges,” said Abdusattor Esoev, IOM Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.
“This collaboration between the Government of Bangladesh, World Bank and IOM represents a concrete example of how to translate the humanitarian-development nexus into lasting results.”
As the first line of care in the communities, these clinics provide much-needed support with reproductive and family medicine; health screenings, gender-based violence response and nutrition counselling.
“We have been working in close coordination with the humanitarian agencies, development partners and non-governmental organizations,” said Dandan Chen, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
“Through a total of USD 150 million in grant support to IOM among other actors, the World Bank is helping to address the needs of host communities in Bangladesh and displaced Rohingya until their safe, voluntary and dignified return home to Myanmar.”
IOM also upgraded, staffed and equipped Sadar Hospital, the district’s only secondary health care centre. The 250-bed facility provides specialized services, including special neonatal care, emergency, intensive care and coronary care units; COVID-19 treatment; blood transfusions and voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and AIDS cases, among others.
“The recently built patient ward is better than the ward that we have been shifted from,” said Abul Hasan, a 60-year-old local patient at Sadar Hospital. “We will benefit in lots of ways once the hospital has been fully renovated.”
Construction of the remaining clinics and renovations to the district hospital are ongoing and expected to be completed in 2023. During the pre-construction phase, IOM built temporary structures to ensure continued access to health care services.