Health services for people affected by the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh received a boost this week, when IOM, the UN Migration Agency, launched two major new health facilities in Cox’s Bazar.
A new USD 240,000, 33-room in-patient hospital now stands on the site of what was formerly a small medical post constructed from bamboo and tarpaulins, an IOM press release said. The hospital in Madhurchara, Ukhiya, is the first to offer in-patient services to Rohingyas and members of the host community living in a particularly densely populated part of the camp. There are 20 beds for patients admitted and staying overnight.
The facility will also provide maternity services to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services; a specialised pediatric care unit for children up to the age of 12; a specialized unit for the care of new- borns; and complex laboratory
services. According to Dr Andrew Mbala, IOM Health Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar, the hospital will ease pressure on the Cox’s Bazar district hospital, which was designed to accommodate 250 in-patients, but often must host up to twice that number.
Another new primary health care facility was also opened by IOM in the camp this week, in close collaboration with the Bangladeshi health authorities, who will eventually take over its management and provision of services. The USD 120,000 clinic, which will also provide mental health and psychosocial support, will serve people living in one of the areas of the camp most prone to landslides and flooding.
Together the facilities will serve catchment areas totalling around 73,000 people from the Rohingyas and local communities. Almost a million Rohingyas now live in camps, often in very poor conditions.
“In-patient services and comprehensive primary health care are currently a big gap in the Rohingya camp and these facilities will allow us to provide comprehensive care,” said Dr Mbala.
The opening ceremonies this week were attended by senior Bangladeshi officials and representatives of donor governments Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Julia Niblett opened the two facilities. Prof AHM Enayet Hossain, Additional Director General of Bangladesh’s Health Department, described trying to meet the health needs of hundreds of thousands of newly arrived Rohingya people at the height of the crisis as ‘a nightmare’.
But more than a year later, “the nightmare was over” and, by working in partnership with organizations such as IOM, “the dream” of providing better healthcare was
“step by step” becoming a reality,
he noted. “These inaugurations mark the start of a significant and important new phase in IOM’s long-term commitment to working with the government of Bangladesh to increase and improve health service provision within the host and refugee communities here in Cox’s Bazar,” said IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri.