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Destitute children are extremely vulnerable to deadly coronavirus

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01st-Apr-2020       
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AS the coronavirus gains a foothold in the country, the increasing vulnerability of millions of orphaned and destitute children remains largely unaddressed. There are around 4,400,000 orphaned children in Bangladesh. However, the government's department of social services knows of around 2, 00,000 kids who live in 85 government-run children's homes and 4,000 private orphanages. Homeless and orphaned children who live in the streets and in informal settlements remain beyond the purview of government monitoring during this health crisis. So what can be the solution? We don't even have enough ventilators to support our population--we need one ventilator for every 20,000 people but only have one for every 1,37,000 people. So we need at least seven times more ventilators than we already have. The government should immediately disburse loans to the private sector to enable them to buy 10,000 more ventilators within two months.
The private sector should be given the immediate fiscal boost as we know that the public sector often misuses valuable equipment -- there are many instances of public sector hospitals keeping valuable equipment idle which degrades if not used over-time. In any event the monies will be given as a loan which will be paid back. What else can be done to keep our street children safe -- getting the message to 4.5 million of our most deprived citizens is a seemingly insurmountable task. Here again the private NGOs can help the government to get the message across as many work with street children. The administration lacks the mechanisms by which the messages of prevention can be transmitted to these children.
Neither can it do much if they suddenly get the disease. But it must reach these children -- our most deprived and helpless, as prevention is better than cure.


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