Bangladesh + 1 more

Bangladesh Rapid Assistive Technology Assessment (rATA), May 2021

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In total more than 870,000 Rohingya refugees currently reside in 34 camps formally designated by the Government of Bangladesh in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas of Cox’s Bazar District. The problems relating to access to assistive product are prevalent among the Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh. Among individuals with physical or cognitive difficulties identified by the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) household survey in the Rohingya refugee camps in 2019, only 34% reportedly had access to support services such as assistive devices or rehabilitation. In addition, COVID-19 and the subsequent social restrictions can disproportionately impact people with disabilities, from the risk of being excluded from awareness messaging, to restricted access to assistive products following loss of income. Within Bangladesh such widespread measures were introduced, and remain in place, since March 2020 to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and it remains unclear what impact this has had on persons with disabilities.

Against this background, REACH, in partnership with CBM Global, and with financial support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has conducted the rATA survey among the Rohingya population living in camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. The aim was to assess the scale and drivers of assistive technology (AT) needs within the Rohingya population living in refugee camps, in order to inform the global understanding of AT needs in a humanitarian setting for the Global Report of Assistive Technology (GReAT), as well as improving the provision of support to this population.

Key findings

  • Overall 11% of individuals reportedly use assistive products, with slightly higher use by males (12%) relative to females (9%). Use of assistive products seems to increase with age, with 36% of older persons reportedly using assistive products, and higher use also reported for individuals with a functional limitation in the vision domain.

  • The most commonly used assistive products were reportedly spectacles, axillary elbow crutches and chairs for the shower/bath/toilet. Assistive products were reportedly predominantly sourced from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), with selfmade and provided by friends or family also commonly reported sources.

  • Overall 1% of individuals reportedly have their needs met in terms of assistive products, with 51% of individuals having unmet needs, while the remaining 48% having no assistive products needs.

  • Demand for assistive products seems to increase with age, with 85% of older persons reportedly having unmet needs in terms of assistive products. Amongst individuals identified as having a functional limitation in different domains, 89-98% reportedly have unmet needs .

  • The most commonly reported new products or products needing replacement correspond to the most commonly used products (spectacles, axillary elbow crutches and chairs for the shower/bath/toilet), with notable demand also for pressure relief mattresses and cushions, and hearing aids.

  • The main barriers for accessing assistive products were reportedly a lack of support,19 product unavailability and being unable to afford products. Additional information on where to access assistive products, and access to financial support were the most commonly reported ways of improving access to assistive products.

  • Since the onset of COVID-19 social control measures in March 2020, 61% of users of assistive products reported that they had not been able to access new or replacements of products during this period.