Millions of people reached with prevention messages and hygiene products
BRAC has started manufacturing over 2 lakh (200 thousand) pieces of reusable masks through its hygienic home-based production method for community use as part of the organisation's extensive campaign against COVID-19. It is also currently examining the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hopes to go into its production very soon.
Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, said in this regard, "We are rapidly expanding our capacity for effectively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides operating mass awareness campaign reaching to millions of people, we have now started production of protective wear. While we are manufacturing protective masks, we are exploring and building our capacity to manufacture PPE in our country. Once our production process is perfected following the scientific standards and standardized matrrial, we hope to go into large scale production. We then want to partner with BGMEA and other entities concerned under the government's guidance."
Meanwhile, over 50 thousand frontline healthcare providers of BRAC have started to implement its extensive awareness raising campaign to reach millions of people in 61 districts of Bangladesh to prevent COVID-19 along with distributing protective hygiene products. BRAC has also stopped collecting the installments from its microloan borrowers from 24 March to April 2. It is also running an extensive campaign at the Rohingya camps and host community as well in Cox's Bazar along with distributing soap bars and other necessary materials. In Urban slums and public hotspots it has set up hand washing stations and undertaking a disinfectant campaign in public transportations in partnership with city corporations.
So far, more than 8,500 members of BRAC staff have been provided with specific orientation on COVID-19 prevention and self-protection measures, enabling them to lead the community awareness campaign at the grassroots. More than 170,000 participants and clients of BRAC's development programmes have been briefed to strengthen community's own effort to prevent an outbreak of the disease. Over 2.5 million leaflets and 500 thousand stickers with messages were delivered door to door. Also 7,670 units of hygiene products, such as, liquid soap, sanitisers and soap bars, and 17,932 units of protective wear, such as, masks and gloves, were distributed among the community and frontline BRAC staff.
As a partner of the Bangladesh government's COVID-19 response plan, BRAC is working jointly with the local administration and government. Our staff has handed information, education and communication (IEC) materials to the offices of deputy commissioners, upazila nirbahi officers and civil surgeons. All local offices of BRAC are displaying large banners with sensitising messages of respiratory hygiene, social distancing, coughing etiquettes and hand washing. It's digital media campaign with experts and celebrities have reached over 4 million people and it is about to start a mass media campaign on fighting Corona from Thursday.
Responding to BRAC's call, several organisations have joined to undertake collaborative efforts to fight against Novel Coronavirus. The Department for International Development (DFID), the UK government's overseas aid agency, has agreed to work with BRAC to comprehensively combat the coronavirus diseases through short and long-term solutions. BRAC has enrolled 5 doctors to assist the Directorate-General of Health Services to support the ongoing hotline services to identify and assist COVID-19 patients. The partnership between the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and BRAC is now functional. On 22 March 2020, 20 doctors from BRAC joined to assist hotline services of IEDCR. BRAC is also partnering with Psychosocial Health and Wellness Centre (PHWC) and Kaan Pete Roi in launching a nation-wide tele-counselling platform soon titled "Kaan Pete Roi" for persons in distress, owing to the panic created by COVID-19.
Reiterating the urgency for more collaborations to fight the pandemic, Asif Saleh said, "We are left with no alternative at this moment but to raise ever more joint efforts. While we are happy to see our government, donors, businesses and development partners come forward, we would continue to explore more such opportunities. He urged the public to pay serious attention to the government warning and to avoid travel and maintain social distance.