Towards a socially just model: balancing hunger and response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh

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Sabina Faiz Rashid, Sally Theobald, Kim Ozano

Summary box

  • Responsive and timely research is needed to better understand the challenges faced by poor and vulnerable populations to inform immediate interventions and policies to address this unprecedented COVID-19 modern-day pandemic.

  • There is a need to research changes through time to understand and address the continuous and long-term economic, mental and emotional impact of lockdown on the most marginalised.

  • Many of the Bangladeshi population are vulnerable, yet the COVID-19 response focuses on individual behaviour with limited attention to the social, economic and contextual factors that prevent the most marginalised from following national recommendations.

  • In the context of structural constraints, continuation of the lockdown has to be accompanied by strong political resolve to ensure that people do not go without basic meals and have basic health information and support.

  • The experiences of people living and working in slums in Bangladesh needs to be captured and translated to context specific strategies for lockdown, as current measures risk starvation for many.

  • In the context of COVID-19, the lockdown model is being imported from a different context (western or developed economies) with stronger economic bases and better social safety nets for those in need, but is there a better way forward for low resource contexts?

  • Economic mortalities may overtake health mortalities for the poorest who survive on daily wage labour.