Cox’s Bazar – To date, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has facilitated the vaccination of over 45,000 Rohingya refugees at its 17 camp-based health centres.
IOM has been providing COVID-19 vaccination support in Cox’s Bazar since mid-2021, when the Government of Bangladesh launched a campaign to offer the vaccine to refugees.
The second round started on 26 January 2022 and aims to vaccinate over 96,000 refugees through IOM-run centres.
More than 33,000 Rohingya over the age of 54 received two doses of the vaccine at IOM facilities shortly after the Bangladesh National Committee on COVID-19 Immunization announced plans to vaccinate Rohingya communities in August 2021. This was part of the national deployment and vaccination plan. .
Among those vaccinated is a 52-year-old refugee, Marijan.
“At first, we were afraid of this COVID-19 vaccination program, but the volunteers raised awareness by visiting our homes several times. Then I received two doses of the vaccine in the hospital. Now, while we see so many COVID-19 patients around us We feel blessed and grateful to be vaccinated,” added Marijan.
In Cox’s Bazar, IOM also supported the vaccination of host community members at Rangikhali and Ali Akbarpara community clinics. By January 2022, more than 3,300 members of the host community had received both doses of the vaccine at the two sites.
So far, 75 IOM staff members have been trained by the World Health Organization and have participated in the vaccination campaign as managers, nurses, vaccinators and volunteers.
Other COVID-19 related health services provided by IOM include support for contact tracing teams to help with surveillance in camps. IOM operates nine sites for the collection of COVID-19 specimens to improve testing and early diagnosis. In addition, IOM’s two Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centers at the camp level provide comprehensive management of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“Health is one of our biggest interventions in Cox’s Bazar. We see quality health as the starting point for all other aspects of life,” said Nusrath Ghazzali, Chief of Mission (Responsible) of IOM Bangladesh.
Other health services provided by IOM and its implementing partners in Cox’s Bazar include 49 primary and secondary health care facilities that provide outpatient and inpatient management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, child health services , sexual and reproductive health, 24-hour emergency referrals, mental health and psychosocial support and support for victims of gender-based violence and community health worker services.
Refugees and populations on the move are among the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19. Globally, IOM has advocated for governments to include them in national immunization plans.
IOM has been supporting refugees with health care in addition to other support services since 2017, when at least 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar and found temporary refuge across the border in Cox’s Bazar. , currently the largest refugee camp in the world.