Information

COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh Part4: Summary

From June to July 2020, when lockdown measures were in place in Bangladesh to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF) funded a project to support communities of persons affected by leprosy in four districts of Rajshahi division in the northwest of the country.  Self-help groups in each district took the lead in carrying out the following activities with the help of Lepra Bangladesh: providing food to households in difficulty, advocating with the authorities, and disseminating information on social media. Here we provide a roundup of the project.

 

Responding to direct needs

Leaders of self-help groups visited the homes of persons affected by leprosy to provide information on how to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, give nutritional advice on boosting the immune system and interview residents about their living conditions.

They found many people were in difficulty because they had lost their jobs due to the lockdown. Based on the results, emergency assistance in the form of food and money was delivered safely and smoothly to 730 people in four districts with the cooperation of district authorities.

For the first time, mobile banking was used to transmit money securely and swiftly to all those eligible for financial support. That the money arrived ahead of the Islamic festival of Eid made recipients all the happier.

 

Advocacy

The self-help group leaders held meetings with officials in each district to share the situation of persons affected by leprosy amid the coronavirus pandemic and to request cooperation and support. Although district officials had their hands full attempting to halt the spread of the virus, the meetings went ahead thanks to the persistence of the group leaders.

Two districts expressed their support for the self-help groups to be officially registered. In addition, the groups received specific advice on whether it would be possible, in future, to utilize existing support frameworks by working with sub-district and regional health officers. This represented a major step forward for them.

 

Information dissemination

The self-help groups used Facebook to share photos and videos of their activities. Information was also shared via community meetings and home visits by group leaders and community champions supporting them for those lacking internet access. In this way, information was shared with about 15,000 people across the four districts.

 

It was the first time for these self-help groups to deliver assistance in such a short period of time, all the while observing social distancing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. And it was a great achievement for them, with those in charge demonstrating leadership and carrying out their activities responsibly.

In November, SHF began a new grant program to help communities of persons affected by leprosy amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In Bangladesh, activities are being carried out by four self-help groups in Rajshahi division, which participated in this summer’s project, and by ALO (Advancing Leprosy and disadvantaged peoples Opportunities Society) with support of The Leprosy Mission International Bangladesh. SHF looks forward to seeing the SHGs that took part in the initial project make use of that experience and, in cooperation with the district authorities and related organizations, expand the scope of their activities.

 

Check out the Facebook pages of Bogura Federation, Lepra Bangladesh and The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh for daily updates on their activities. 

Related articles

2020/8/19 COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh
2020/9/11 COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh Part2: Community Champions
2020/10/19  COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh Part3: Self-help Group Leaders

See here for more information about what our Foundation is doing to support communities of persons affected by leprosy during the COVID-19 pandemic.