BHW's initiative at Kurigram to ensure vaccination of marginalized people

BHW's initiative at Kurigram to ensure vaccination of marginalized people

The Covid vaccination is one of the very few ways that can save people’s life and safeguard health and wellbeing during this global pandemic. After overcoming various obstacles, Government has finally started the long-awaited mass-vaccination program all across the country. The initiative remains difficult for people in marginalized communities to get access to the vaccination program.

Lack of proper information, awareness, health education and less or no access to technology facilities poor people especially the women living in remote areas and of marginalized communities are at risk of being deprived of vaccination.

In such a situation, Bangladesh Health Watch through its Regional Chapter has taken initiative to motivate people to get vaccinated and to help registering them for vaccination. Initially it is taken in Kurigram district as a test area. Solidarity, BHW’s partner in Kurigram, is managing the campaign activities locally.

The program has overall been supervised there by District Health Rights Forum and conducted by Health Rights Youth Forum as Regional Chapters of Bangladesh Health Watch. Volunteers of the Youth Forum disseminate information on vaccination among the people of backward communities especially at remote villages of Kurigram District Sadar, Ulipur Upazila Sadar and Hatia Union of Ulipur Upazila, giving especial priority to women and socially deprived communities.

As part of the campaign, a two-day long announcement through microphone was made and banners and festoons were hung in 10 most crowded places. 15 volunteers were divided into 5 teams to register the vaccine at 8 centers. One female volunteer on each team was assigned to assist the women. They did registration and provided the printed vaccine cards completely free of cost. Prior to the mass vaccination program, the youth volunteers of Bangladesh Health Watch conducted corona vaccination registration camps in Kurigram district town, Ulipur upazila town and five places including Anantapur High School, Union Parishad premises, Anantapur bridge area, Anantapur Government Primary School premise and Kadamtala village of Hatia Union on the 6th to 8th August 2021.

For smooth operation and success of the registration program, they involve local government representatives and locally influential people with the program. Hatia Union Parishad Chairman Mr. BM Abul Hossain, UP Member Joynal Abedin inaugurated the Vaccine Registration Camp at Ward 8. Prominent politician of Ulipur Upazila, President of Ulipur Upazila Banik Samiti Soumendra Prasad Pandey inaugurated the registration center of Ulipur Upazila. Executive Director of Solidarity and Secretary General of District Health Rights Forum, Kurigram Mr. Harun-Or-Rashid Lal and Vice-President Mr. Swapan Sarkar Vakat has coordinated the whole program. Chairman of Hatia Union Parishad Abul Hossain said, the campaign and free camp, initiated by the District Health Rights Forum and supported by BHW, has created huge interest among people of the union. He promised to cooperate this kind of voluntary program in future.

Medical Technologist (Expanded Program on Immunization-EPI) Md. Ashraful informed that during the two-day vaccination program, a total of 600 doses of vaccines were allotted in each of the 13 unions of Ulipur upazila. Out of these, 500 people were vaccinated in 9 unions due to low presence of interested people. Only 3 unions reached the target and were able to provide the allotted 600 doses.

Mr. Ashraful said, “I first informed the Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr. Subash Chandra Sarker about the larger number of interested people gathered in Hatia union. Later, he informed Civil Surgeon of Kurigram Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman and allocated another 400 vaccines for the Hatia Union. However, 500 people had to return without getting vaccination.’’

In fact, the number of interested people to get vaccinated at Hatia Union was 3 times bigger than the neighboring unions. Bangladesh Health Watch's campaign and free registration initiative, which has been done on a fully voluntary basis, have played a key role in attracting more people to the vaccine program and made it a success. The youth volunteers of Bangladesh Health Watch are keen to continue this campaign and free registration program that created a positive attitude towards vaccination among the rural population. But the vaccine registration camp has been closed temporarily due to government's decision to reduce the mass vaccination program as there are shortage of vaccines.

When the program resumes, these young health volunteers will resume the service. A news was covered by a local newspaper the daily Juger Alo on the Corona Vaccine Free Registration Camp run by the District Health Rights Forum.

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