Strategic changes need to deal corona pandemic

Staff Correspondent,, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Experts and researchers believe that strategic changes are needed to deal with the Corona situation. According to them, the situation could be dire if action is not taken now.

They made the remarks at a webinar organized by the Health System Development Forum on Saturday (August 29).

Participatants in the webinar was Dr. Shahaduzzaman, Reader of the Department of Medical Anthropology and Global Health at the University of Sussex, Public Health Specialist and Public Health, Bangladesh Executive Director Tawfiq Joarder and Associate Professor at the National Institute of Mental Health Helal Uddin Ahmed.

Conducted by the World Bank's Health, Nutrition and Population Affairs Officer Ziauddin Haider the Health System Development Forum regularly hosts weekly webinars.

Dr. Shahaduzzaman said there are some differences between general treatment and corona pandemic. The issue of this pandemic is purely a public health issue. The first step in dealing with corona is to stop the transmission. The opportunity to know that the human race can be benefited so much by washing hands from home has not come in so many years of civilization. The thinking of our people is curative oriented. They want to hear from the doctor. A doctor who has seen a patient in a hospital or in a chamber all his life is not supposed to know a thing completely outside the hospital. Although they have played a major role in corona coping.

From the beginning, our framing was wrong, he said. Corona was seen as a medical problem, but corona is a public health problem and communication is a big part of public health. And the pandemic needs social collective initiatives, where people need to be involved. The main thing to involve the people is communication. Corona is basically a communication problem. We have seen some of his issues. What we call Fear of Unknown. The pandemic created panic. There is a lot of difference in Covid-19. In the beginning, due to some propaganda, we acted recklessly.

The persecution of the expatriates started after the corona patient was identified. At first they were killed by a quarantine seal — a different man. Then a red flag was hoisted at their house in the village — it was the house of an expatriate. It is formal stigmatization. Although the infection started through expatriates, later spoiled identity was seen. Then what happened - expatriate means the source of panic. Then informal stigmatization was observed. When the administration said that they were a source of fear, banners were seen in various places starting from tea shops banning the entry of expatriates. Expatriates were also beaten up.

When one first died, he was not an expatriate. Then a kind of real fear was created. Then came the lockdown and created another fear. The garment workers were brought back after being given leave. Then Fear of Life was added to Fear of Livelihood. Physicians did not have PPE, they were afraid to see patients. Again in an incident in Brahmanbaria we saw that a large part of the people had no fear. The time was at middle stage of the lockdown. This fearlessness has caused some more people to fear. Fear then went into panic. The patient is fleeing the hospital; attacks were carried on at the patient's house. In such situations people wanted to know the real situation. The responsibility of the administration is to inform the people about the real situation. There is still a need to change the strategy. Corona needs to be public health oriented. Moreover, there will be no way to handle the second wave, said Dr. Shahaduzzaman.

Dr. Helal Uddin Ahmed said, we have seen during dengue, the general public did not have confidence in those who gave warning messages. The same situation we saw again. In our country, politicians are ignoring the opinion of experts, which is why ordinary people are being cornered. Recently, the opinion of experts on Eid-ul-Azha has been ignored. Physicians have a responsibility in some cases to create distrust. Some people have said that they have got the medicine, but it has left the people in distrust. A study from North South University found that not only marginalized people but also educated people lack health literacy.

Dr. Tawfiq Joardar said that it is unthinkable that there are no patients in the hospitals of Bangladesh apart from the pandemic. If someone claims that there are no patients in the hospitals, it means that people do not have the courage to go to the hospital or they do not think that they will get the right treatment by going to the hospital. This is a very dangerous situation. We have conducted a study which found that the public has less confidence in the overall health system; the public has less trust in doctors and less trust in the health system. Suddenly we saw some people being changed. But unless the system is changed, individual change will not play a big role.