‘Data revolution’ needed for Covid-19 response

Bangladesh has stressed the need for a ‘data revolution’ for curbing health emergencies and protecting jobs in Covid-19 response and recovery.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said Bangladesh, like many other migrant sending countries, is now facing the challenge of returning expatriate workers as the economy is badly hit in many migrant host countries due to the pandemic, especially dwindling of oil prices.

“By collecting, processing, and using this data of these returnees, we can appropriately re-skill them, and also can help reintegrate them in a sustainable manner,” he said.

He was speaking at a panel discussion organised by Bangladesh Permanent Mission in the United Nations (UN).
ICT Division Senior Secretary N M Zeaul Alam also spoke at the meeting while Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Rabab Fatima chaired the discussion.

The event styled “Accelerating Post Covid Recovery Using Data Revolution” was organized in collaboration with Bangladesh foreign ministry and government’s A2i programme, Somalian government, UN agencies and Future of Work Lab on Monday, the foreign ministry said.

Regional Coordinator (Asia and Pacific), UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Dr. Denis Nkala, Somalian government representative Abdirahim Muudey, Prof Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University, Robert Opp of UNDP, Vincenzo Aquaro of UNDESA, Gemma Van Halderen of UNESCAP, Niall O’ higgins of ILO, Paul Meyer of The Commons Project and Caroline Buckee of Harvard Public Health School joined at the panel discussion.

They said evidence-based data is a critical enabler not only for responding to the health emergency posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also for ensuring access to routine health services and social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable, as well as supporting jobs for the locals and the returnee migrant workers.

“As we are fighting the pandemic, the importance of scientific evidence has become more significant than ever, so has been the collection and analysis of data – not only for being informed of what’s happening, but very importantly to suggest evidence-based response and timely actions for recovery,” Ambassador Fatima said.

A2i policy advisor Anir Chowdhury delivered the keynote speech.
He shared some good practices in utilizing data for tackling the Covid-19 in Bangladesh like identification of possible hot zones of COVID-19 infections, provision of tele-health services, creation of a database of more than 5 million people who are in need for cash transfer and designing post-COVID skills and employment response.