Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugee Crisis 2017–2018 - Public Health Situation Analysis (7 May 2018)
As of 10 May 2018, an estimated 693 000 Rohingya people have crossed from Myanmar into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh since August 2017, joining approximately 212 000 others who had fled in earlier waves of displacement. There have been 5168 new arrivals since January 2018. The sudden arrival of a large number of Rohingya people has put pressure on the existing infrastructure and services in Cox’s Bazar, resulting in a humanitarian catastrophe illustrated by critical needs in terms of food security, shelter, water, sanitation, health, nutrition, safety and protection.
In September 2017, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) across ministries and the military responded promptly despite limited resources and generously allocated 3000 acres of land for the establishment of a new refugee camp. Local communities have been among the frontline responders, providing food and basic items for new arrivals. To complement the efforts of the Ministry of Health (MoH), health-related humanitarian actors responded in a coordinated manner under the umbrella of the Health Cluster led by WHO.
Notably, the public health response at the early stage of the emergency operation was translated into several rounds of major vaccination campaigns against cholera, measles and diphtheria, and outstanding patient care management and contact chemoprophylaxis to control diphtheria epidemic. However, due to the speed and scale of the influx of Rohingya people, the collective response has been unable to keep pace with the enormous demands.
The living conditions of the refugee population remain extremely vulnerable. These are explained by many factors including the clustering of populations in hastily constructed settlements clinging to steep, rapidly deforested hillsides. Overcrowding, insufficient food, and poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), present serious health threats. In addition, this public health situation analysis (PHSA) report focuses on the high risk of the worsening of public health problems when the rains start, turning the denuded hillsides to mud and dramatically increasing the risks of infectious disease outbreaks.