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IOM, Amazon Step Up COVID-19 Rohingya Refugee Response in Cox’s Bazar

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IOM staff pictured in a renovated COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Center (ITC) in Camp 8W of the Rohingya Settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh © IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is teaming with global technology leader Amazon to strengthen health response efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Rohingya refugee settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. By supporting frontline health workers in the district through the provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the nearly quarter-million-dollar donation will enhance the capacity of local doctors, nurses and medical staff in the fight against COVID-19.

Sustaining the well-being of frontline workers is crucial to response efficiency, but the surge in PPE demand around the world has made its acquisition difficult. Despite challenges, approximately 322,000 gloves, 16,000 gowns and coveralls, 18,300 N95 respirators and 119,000 face shields have been distributed to community health workers and health care providers at both IOM and Government health facilities here since the beginning of the crisis. While progress is being made, demand still outweighs PPE supply across the district.

As one of the largest health partners in the district, IOM is supporting or operating 35 health care facilities in Cox’s Bazar – contributing to infection prevention control, risk communication, community engagement and case management. Through the donation, more frontline health workers will be able to deliver these life-saving services to refugees while reducing their risk of exposure. Amazon’s contribution marks the first private sector donation to IOM’s COVID-19 response efforts in the country.

As of 27 September, 251 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the Rohingya settlements and 4,671 cases have been confirmed among host communities in Cox’s Bazar. In Bangladesh, approximately 360,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed – with confirmed deaths nearing 5,200. As the unprecedented global health crisis continues to evolve, strengthened partnerships and multilateral cooperation are as crucial as ever.

“Despite the supplies of PPEs to health care providers as much as available, around 50 staff from IOM health team have been infected with COVID 19 so far. The infection among health staff not only lead to sufferings and life risk, but also results in vacuum in the work force leaving the affected staff and the contacts (co-workers) out of work for at least two weeks. Thus, to ensure uninterrupted services in the health facilities, protection of staff is of utmost priority,” said Dr. Samir K. Howlader, National Health Officer at IOM in Cox’s Bazar.

IOM and the humanitarian community, with support from organizations like Amazon, continue working around the clock to boost health response efforts and expand support to those disproportionately vulnerable to COVID-19.

For more information, please contact Tarek Mahmud at IOM Cox’s Bazar, Tel: + 880 1752 380240, Email: tmahmud@iom.int, or Nathan Webb, Tel: + 880 1869 530170, Email: nwebb@iom.int.

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