Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Tuesday, November 24, 2020 01:26:20 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Stop Pandemic Special Care Is Needed In Slums

  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Print
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Md. Abdullah Al Zobair, Saif Iqbal & Masud Ahmad :
Urban poor are on the double-edge sword as they live in dense areas where maintaining social or physical distance and frequent hand washing are big challenges, while their income generation halted due to the government imposed unofficial lockdown. Since the "general leave" daily wagers have been suffering an acute food crisis and living on starvation or half-fed.  After the announcement of general leave home-bound rush from Dhaka and other big cities clogged the highways and vacated the cities that may convey the contagion to the rural areas, where healthcare facilities are too poor. The poor who have no fixed term job, like rickshaw pullers, drivers, street vendors, beggar, hawkers, small shop owners, domestic workers etc. are feeling the pinch of the shutdown. Besides the government, NGOs, social and community organisations, and many individuals have come forward with assistance and aid, but how long can the poor endure?
World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked to hand wash frequently, clean the surrounding, wash clothes every day, maintain a physical distance but when access to safe water, proper sanitation facilities, and essential living space remains big challenges for the poor people living in urban informal settlements, how the state contain the spread of contagion in slums? Furthermore, when health facilities in most of the 14000 slums across the cities and towns with 7 million people are solely ignored, how we fight against the pandemic, which defeats the developed health care systems in Europe and America. The exclusion of any segment of the population from essential healthcare and water, sanitation and hygiene services not only puts that individual at risk but creates an unnecessary and unacceptable risk to the entire population by allowing the highly communicable diseases to spread more easily. To maximise access to health services for the urban poor, it will be important to map and coordinate COVID-19 mitigation measures with government, public-private, non-profit and for-profit health, and water and sanitation providers. This will be critical to avoid gaps in service delivery, particularly in densely populated slums where the outbreak could sweep through and place a heavy burden on existing infrastructure.
Slum-dwellers who are casual labourers or self-employed may prefer quick and easy healthcare that doesn't interfere with their ability to earn their daily income. In these instances, governments could consider investing in mobile clinics to deliver health services where they are most needed. They could also erect semi-permanent structures for COVID-19 outreach, although these may still end up being in short supply in overcrowded slums. Luckily, the novel coronavirus has not yet reached epidemic proportions in the slums. Taking these pre-emptive actions now could help protect millions of people who are already grappling with complex, layered socio-economic challenges.
Recently, the government has announced some initiatives taking the plight of these people in consideration, including measures to reach food to them and to encourage them to stay indoors. The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has a stock of about 24,717 metric tonnes of rice and Tk 7.58 crore under its Humanitarian Assistance Programme to deal with the crisis. On March 24, the government allocated 6,500 metric tonnes of rice and Tk 5.5 crore to the deputy commissioners of the 64 districts so that the DCs can help those in need. The DCs are preparing packets of relief materials -- each containing 10kg rice, 5kg potato, one kg lentil, one kg salt, one-litre soybean oil, and a piece of soap -- for the distribution. The relief materials have been provided to the homes of the beneficiaries to push them to stay at home. Like many other NGOs and social organisations, BRAC has extended relief activities across the slums and low-income communities across the country with hand washing, hand sanitising, public place disinfecting and awareness building initiatives.
Several support measures have been announced for the marginalised people, which include the operation of Vulnerable Group Development and Vulnerable Group Feeding programmes, operation of open market sales services, selling rice at a subsidised price of Tk 10 and food support for six months under the social safety net programmes at the district levels. Despite all these initiatives, the outreach to the target people would be less than the requirement. It is apprehended that a section of the marginalised people would be out of these benefits, who may fall below the poverty line. The informal sector employees constitute 87% of the total employee of the country that needs social safety coverage. The government should extend the coverage by including lower-middle-income people as laid off or economic shutdowns will push them under the poverty line if the shutdown lasts more days.  The revised budget for fiscal 2019-20 may consider further allocation under social safety net programmes to extend the above-mentioned programmes across the country.
It is well-understood that Bangladesh needs to get prepared not only to address the immediate necessities of the marginalised group but to get prepared for the short, medium and long-term adversities that are invariably on the way. In this backdrop, the announced programme of the government is just the start in addressing the immediate and some short-term necessities. The government should extend the social safety net schemes incorporating the people, who are now jobless or have seen their income dwindle. Many of the low-paid and low-income groups have no jobs now. Moreover, they are not under any social safety-net programmes of the government.
With no delay, the government must deploy mobile clinics to all low-income settlements, ensuring poor people's access to healthcare systems to contain the deadly virus. Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities must be addressed quickly before the pandemic outbreak in the slums. Besides, the government should identify those people with the help of local government agencies and NGOs and provide some cash or income support in the next six months or until normalcy is restored.
(Md. Abdullah Al Zobair, Manager, Knowledge Management, Innovation & Communication; Saif Iqbal, Programme Manager; and Masud Ahmad, Senior Programme Manager; at Urban Development Programme, BRAC; email: abdullah.zobair@brac.net)


News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Only change of politics can help investment, not what Investment Board says

THE Revenue Board has dismissed a number of proposals from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) that the latter feels would help ease doing business in the country. In one proposal, the BIDA has suggested relaxing tax burden, in the form of VAT (value added tax), on financially-vulnerable companies. It ...

International »

New Zealand leader Ardern offers virus know-how to Joe Biden

AP, Wellington:New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus.Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke ...

Football »

Ibrahimovic scores twice, limps off as AC Milan stay top in Serie A

AFP, Milan :Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to bring his tally to 10 league goals this season before limping off with a muscle strain as AC Milan stayed top in Serie A on Sunday with a 3-1 win at 10-man Napoli.Milan move back two points ahead of Sassuolo - 2-0 winners ...

Entertainment »

Sarika is now regular in TV dramas

Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Earlier popular TV actress and model Sarika Sabrin was seen to act in special days’ dramas. Now she is becoming regular in TV dramas. According to her, now she will be seen in TV dramas regularly. She earlier promised many times to be regular in dramas but ...

Editorial »

Historic archaeological sites need to be preserved

The medieval period heritage buildings and historic sites that are valued for their magnificent and distinct characteristics linked to the Pala, Sultanate, Mughal and the British architectural inheritance already turned into ruins while many others are facing gradual disappearance. A nexus of the politically influential people, businessmen and government officials ...

Business & Economy »

Super Board gets `Super Brand Award` 2020

Business Desk :"Super Board" a brand of Super Formica and Lamination Limited a business unit of T.K. Group recently achieved "Superbrands Award 2020". This prestigious brand award was announced at a virtual event organized by Bangladesh Brand Forum, said a press release.Super Board's long presence in the particle board industry, ...

Business & Economy »

Kevin Green made HSBC’s Country Head

Business Desk :The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Limited has appointed Kevin Green as new country head of wholesale banking for HSBC Bangladesh.The appointment became effective from November 15, 2020, said a press release of the bank.The release said Kevin will focus on enhancing the client experience and further ...

City »

Health Minister Zahid Maleque distributes Individual Health ID Card at Hotel Sonargaon in the capital on Sunday.

International »

US hits 12 million Covid-19 cases as many Americans defy Thanksgiving travel guidance

Reuters :The United States recorded its 12th million Covid-19 case on Saturday, even as millions of Americans were expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials about furthering the spread of the infectious disease.More than 12,010,000 cases of the coronavirus were reported, according to a ...

Football »

Bangladesh footballers start practice at Doha

Sports Reporter :Bangladesh Football team started their practice at Doha, the capital city of Qatar on Sunday. After reaching Doha on November 19 for the first time members of Bangladesh team took part in their practice sessions in the outdoor. Bangladesh team arrived in Qatar to play their away match ...

Entertainment »

Man held in Khulna for sending obscene messages to Srabanti

A man has been arrested in Khulna on allegation of sending obscene text messages to Kolkata’s celebrity actress Srabanti Chatterjee. The arrestee is Mahbubur Rahman, 33, son of Atikur Rahman, resident of Bakshipara road area under Sonadanga Model police station of Khulna city. Mamtazul Haque, officer-in-charge of Sonadanga Model Police ...

Editorial »

People of Bangladesh are losers for their weakness

TAX Justice Network (TJN), a London based anti-graft body said Bangladesh loses around $703.40 million which is around Tk 6,000 crore in taxes a year. This is quite a big amount of money that a least developed country like Bangladesh is annually losing.  It includes $674.24 million by corporate tax ...

City »

The Country Coordinator of UNV, Dhaka Md.Akhteruddin visits Bangabandhu Research Center, Northern University Bangladesh (NUB) on Saturday. During the visit, he was accompanied by Professor Dr. Anwarul Karim, Adviser, NUB and Executive Director, Bangabandhu Research Center and the Registrar, NUB Comdre Munirul Islam.

Sports »

Djokovic reaches ATP Finals semis, Nadal showdown still on

Agency :London's farewell edition of the ATP Finals could still have its dream climax after world number one Novak Djokovic beat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6(4) to seal a last-four spot on Friday.Defeat by Russian Daniil Medvedev had left the five-time champion needing to beat Germany's Zverev to avoid a group ...

International »

Covid-19: Hong Kong-Singapore travel corridor postponed

BBC Online :The launch of a travel corridor between Hong Kong and Singapore has been postponed for two weeks amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong.The deal was due to kick in on Sunday, allowing passengers to fly both ways without the need to self-isolate.The decision is a ...

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news