CBBSH-Orbis efforts to treat eye disease, combat coronavirus

Published : 14 Jul 2021 09:06 PM | Updated : 15 Jul 2021 01:09 AM

Coronavirus, which has spread globally, is also on the rise in Cox's Bazar, the country's south-eastern border district. As many as 888,381 Rohingyas, who have taken refuge in the district, are at high risk along with local people in the region due to eyes being infected with the coronavirus. 

 Since the beginning of the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, Cox’s Bazar Baitush Sharaf Hospital (CBBSH) in collaboration with Orbis International, has provided eye treatment to 3.5 lakh Rohingya refugees and Host Community. During the period (March 2020 – June 2021), 2,029 Rohingyas and host community were operated on free of cost. 

 CBBSH is open 24 hours a day, providing eye care and raising awareness about the coronavirus in various ways in collaboration with Orbis International. Awareness is being created through the training of more than 300 imams and madrasa teachers in Rohingya camps. 

 Apart from distributing awareness leaflets, posters and festoons, 30 free eye care camps are being conducted every month in the districts around Cox's Bazar. Awareness activities are going on in the media with the training for doctors and radio people. The CBBSH-Orbis International collaboration at the time of the coronavirus pandemic has received a huge response from the Rohingya refugees and local people.

MM Sirajul Islam, General Secretary of CBBSH, said eye treatment was started by setting up two vision centres at government-run Ukhiya Upazila Health Complex and Block-4 of Rohingya Camp-11 in Ukhiya.

“The programme is still going on. Apart from providing eye treatment to the Rohingya and local people every day, work is also being done to create awareness about the coronavirus pandemic. Since coronavirus is transmitted through eyes too, CBBSH and Orbis International, is taking this issue seriously. In the midst of the corona crisis, our 50-bed hospital was not closed for a day. Our doctors and staff are working at the risk of their lives,” he said.

 CBBSH's Program and Operations Manager Shahid Uddin Mahmud said that Orbis has supported CBBSH to deliver eye treatment Rohingyas and Host community people during the COVID-19 pandemic ensuring all safety measures. 

 “From March 2020 to June 2021, around 3.5 lakh eye screenings are completed along with 2,029 eye surgeries at our hospital free of cost including glasses and medicine. More than 300 Imams and madrasa teachers in Rohingya camps have been trained. These trained imams and madrasa teachers are making Rohingya peoples aware of the corona in mosques and madrasas inside the camps,” he said.

 Around 56,000 awareness leaflets, 5,000 posters, 450 festoons have been distributed. Every month 30 free eye medical camps are being conducted in Cox's Bazar, Bandarban and Chittagong districts. From there, people are being aware of coronavirus. 

 He added that so far, training on COVID 19 guidelines including prevention messages has been imparted to 95 hospital staff, 15 community radio staff and 18 media professionals. Around 50,000 protective materials, including surgical masks, sanitisers, and PPE, have been distributed.

 Rahima Khatun (53), a resident of Camp-4 at Kutupalong in Ukhiya, said, "When I went to the Vision Center for eye problems, they told me how to protect myself and my family against coronavirus and provided leaflet also after treating me well." 

 Golbahar (61), a resident of the same camp, said, “My grandson’s eyes are doing well after treatment at the Vision Center. God bless them. 

 Rafiq Ullah (57), a resident of Kutupalong Camp-6, said, “I am getting everything after coming to Bangladesh. Now I am getting eye treatment. I am much better now after having safe eye surgery at Baitush Sharaf Hospital.”

 Maulana Salim Ullah (63), Imam of Markaz Mosque in Balukhali Camp, Ukhiya, said that CBBSH, in collaboration with Orbis International, provided them with training and safety equipment. “I discussed and encouraged the worshipers to be at home and not to spend time outside unnecessarily.’’

 Cox's Bazar journalist leader Deepak Sharma Dipu said, "In collaboration with Orbis International, CBBSH has provided training on COVID 19 guidelines and messages to our media personnel. In the training, we have learned how to protect our eyes and ourselves during the pandemic and now we are telling others to take measures to protect eyes and themselves as well using our media.”

Dr. Munir Ahmed, Country Director of Orbis International Bangladesh said, Orbis is a global non-profit eye care organization working to end avoidable blindness in areas with the greatest need and is present in Bangladesh over 30 years. Orbis works to provide critical eye care to the Rohingya refugee population in Cox’s Bazaar, and the surrounding host community. Study shows that there is a huge demand of eye care services and need for integration of eye health into the existing essential health service package. During the COVID-19 pandemic Orbis has proactively engaged with the key organization – Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) to train hospital and field staff on IPC (Infection Prevention & Control) guidelines and monitoring tools to track the safe and COVID secure eye care services. Orbis has been playing a vital role in eye care for the Refugee population in Bangladesh.

Regular programmes are being aired on Bangladesh Betar Cox's Bazar Center and Community Radio Naf on how to do prevent the spread of coronavirus and take protective measures. Besides providing medical services, Orbis International is also working to create awareness and support eye health partners to protect against the coronavirus among the huge local and Rohingya community.

 Md Siddique Hossain, Station Manager of Community Radio Naf, said Orbis International is producing an awareness campaign on protecting the eye from coronavirus. This is a well-known radio program among locals and the Rohingya community. “Many people call us and talk about eye problems and coronavirus. We ask them to contact Vision Centres and CBBSH. In this way, the programme is playing a great role in combating eye problems safely in this lockdown situation,” he said.