Information

COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh

The Project Site in Bangladesh

Located in South Asia, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The median age is around 27 and the country’s impressive development in recent years is powered by this youthful energy.

Bangladesh achieved the goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem (reducing prevalence to less than one case per 10,000 people) at the national level in 1998 but still sees more than 3,000 new cases a year. The Ministry of Health has set a goal of zero leprosy-related disability, zero leprosy-related discrimination and zero new cases of leprosy by 2030.

As in other countries, novel coronavirus infections have been spreading throughout Bangladesh. Each of the country’s 64 districts is taking steps to guard against the further spread of the virus, including restrictions on movement. In Bogura district, the number of red zones has been increasing, and the situation is constantly changing.

 

Project Implementation: 4 Organizations of Self Help Groups and Lepra Bangladesh

This project is being led by organizations of persons affected by leprosy in four districts of Rajshahi division in northwest Bangladesh, an area endemic for leprosy; the four districts are Bogura, Sirajgonj, Natore and Pabna. Among the four organizations, the Bogura Federation has been active since 2014. Supporting the project in collaboration with these organizations is Lepra Bangladesh. Lepra, an international NGO headquartered in the United Kingdom, has a history dating back nearly 100 years and works with communities in Bangladesh, India, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to find, treat and rehabilitate persons affected by leprosy. Through Lepra Bangladesh, Sasakawa Health Foundation has provided support for persons affected by leprosy in Bogura district since 2011.

 

The Project So Far

Leaders of the four federations, believing it was important to ascertain the situation of persons affected by leprosy amid the coronavirus pandemic, organized door-to-door visits while taking necessary precautions against infection. They provided information about COVID-19 as well as nutritional advice for strengthening resistance to disease. At their own initiative, they also formed groups of “Corona Fighters” to carry out awareness-raising activities in the communities where they live.

Based on the findings from these door-to-door visits, the federations decided to deliver relief supplies to those most in need. In order to realize this, support from the authorities was essential, but it was not easy to obtain at a time when the government was focused on dealing with the pandemic. When a meeting eventually took place, however, the outcome was unexpectedly positive.

Although the federations are not registered as official organizations, which limits what they can do, the authorities said they would be willing to assist with their registration. They also advised them to take advantage of the benefits system that the government has established for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Thanks to this project, the federations have seen a new way forward as officially registered organizations that will enable them to strengthen their activities to help persons affected by leprosy in need.

According to NGO staff supporting the efforts of the federations, one of the difficulties of running this project has been the need to take precautions against COVID-19 infection in areas of high population density; another has been judging how to proceed as the situation changes from moment to moment. They have also had to contend with flooding. Despites all these challenges, it has been inspiring to see how leaders have been working together and doing their best to make the project a success..

Project updates are also being posted on facebook of Bogura FederationLepra Bangladesh.

For more information about how we support COIVD-19 aid projects, click here.