BHW Research Findings Dissemination

Date: 15 October, 2020

Time: 11.00 am - 12.30 pm

Place: Zoom Video Conference

Status: previous

Bangladesh Health Watch (BHW), a citizens’ platform for improved accountability of country’s healthcare system through evidence based policy review and citizen feedback, cordially invites you to a Webinar on the occasion of the dissemination of findings from three research studies:

  1. A quick assessment of medicines and other food items used by COVID-19 positive (+ve) persons at home
  2. Sample collection and sample testing for SARS-Co-2 in Bangladesh: A descriptive qualitative study
  3. Opportunities and challenges of COVID-19 overall case handling in Bangladesh


The dissemination event was held on 15th October 2020. A total of 50 participants from different sector i.e. WHO representative, health experts, Civil Society leaders, academicians, NGO leaders, journalists, donors representatives including Swedish SIDA were present. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Ubaidur Rob, Country Director, Population Council and the working group member, BHW. The presenters were:

Dr. Muntasir Faisel, Dr. AM Zakir Hussain and Palash Chandra Banik.


Presentation 1: A Quick Assessment of Medicines and other Food items Used by COVID-19 Positive (+ve) Persons at home


The research was conducted by Dr Muntasir   Faisel; Dr Maksudul Islam;   Nuhad   Raisa   Seoty; Dr Sayeda   Shabnam  Malik; Nusrat Jabin; Prof. Saidur Rahman (Khasru), and Dr Abu Jamil Faisel. It  was  conducted  from  04  June 2020 to 30 August 2020. For this study, in-depth telephone interviews (IDI) were conducted of confirmed COVID-19 positive patients, post-recovery. The report said 71% of the respondents reported fever as the most frequent symptoms, followed by general weakness, body ache, cough and sore throat. About 17% had a loss of smell and 23% suffered from Aguesia (loss of taste). All the patients interviewed took Paracetamol, followed by several vitamins, such as Vit. C, B and A. Antibiotics, particularly Azythromycin, have been taken by almost 70% of patients, followed by Doxycycline in 10%, and Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in about 9% of cases. In addition to taking therapeutics and a regular diet during their illness, all the recovered patients took precautionary measures and supplementary food. 84% gargled with hot water, 79% inhaled steam and 76% drank hot water. The report said while many of the precautionary measures used by the respondents are helpful in respiratory exercises, people should be made aware that most of the medication taken is unnecessary, have not been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19, and have side effects.


The second research study conducted by Dr. AM Zakir Hussain . This survey was carried out using information from 24 Directorate General of Health Services officials as well as from four daily newspapers and four TV channels. This study found that IEDCR, the national referral center for surveillance, failed to train relevant officials and monitor the quality of sample collection methods and tests, because it claimed it was too busy with single-handedly driving home sample collections and tests for about a month. According to the report, this resulted in poor training quality. The quality of sample collection methods and safety of some lower-tier laboratories has suffered. In the beginning, sample collection tools were not standardized, leading to false negative results.

The report added that even now, some district hospitals do not possess any PCR machines. Also, for some time in the beginning, sample collection sticks were even made of even broom-sticks and hair clips with cotton tips, and samples were transported in non-laboratory-grade normal saline, occasionally in polyethene bags or in tubes with loosely fitting caps, which would fall off during transportation, the report further added.


Presentation – 3: Opportunities and Challenges of COVID-19 case handling in Bangladesh

The third study conducted by the Department of Non-communicable Diseases, Bangladesh University of Health Sciences (BUHS) on COVID-19 case handling. This study was conducted from June to August involving different COVID-dedicated health care facilities across the country. A total of 51 in-depth telephone and in -person interviews were conducted with service users, service providers and experts.

This study found that testing has been inadequate from the very beginning. The report also said that about 80% service users were unaware about the locations of testing sites, and about testing procedures. Over half were not interested in being tested owing to the social stigma and fears of isolation from the community and family members. Moreover, few of the service users lost interest in testing due to the delayed and repeated false negative results. Some mentioned lack of testing facilities in their areas.


The findings of the studies that shared with journalist during the online press launch got some media attention. A snapshot of the media coverage are as follows:



English Newspaper

SI Newspaper Headline Link
1 The Business Standard Covid-19: Testing was inadequate from the beginning, study finds
2 Daily Star Covid patients have to spend Tk 12,000 each for medicine
3 Daily Observer BHW finds inadequacy in C-19 testing from the beginning News clip


Bangla Newspaper

1 Prothom Alo বাসাথেকে সুস্থহকে বযয়১২ হাজার টাো News Clip


Question & Answer


Q: Does the WHO have guidelines for positivity rates for testing?

Dr. AM Zakir Hussain: WHO uses 5% positivity rate as a bench marker for assessing the sufficiency of tests though but if we test 200,000 samples today based on the fact that more than 85% samples today test negative, test positivity in all probability will be less than 5%. So the cut-off 5% has to be considered in that light. If we do not test, the reported number of cases give people a sense that COVID-19 is not so serious in Bangladesh. Besides, if you don't know people is infected or not, you cannot do contract tracing. The ratio of number of confirmed cases to contacts traced/quarantined in BD is among the highest in the world. In other countries, for every confirmed cases, in other countries, more than 10 to more than 100 contacts were traced and some of them were quarantined. In BD, it was only about 1 to 3. That has been the reason the disease spread wildly in the country.


Q: In the residence of slums and low income group people the isolation is impossible.

Comment: It is challenging. You can put the people in stadiums, etc. this has been used in other countries. We did it in more resource challenged countries Sierra Leone, and Liberia during EVD outbreaks in 2014/15. Nothing is impossible.


BUHS: It was the study at the initial phase when the national plan was not implemented so well as now.


Q: What is about old aged people (62+)? Who tested positive had they gone to hospitals?

Dr. Muntasir: Old aged people (62+) who tested positive didn't complete their treatment at home, they need to go for hospital treatment so that they are not included in our study.


Closing remarks:

The moderator sum-up the session in requesting to look at the BHW website others where all the study reports will be available soon. Finally, he concluded the session by giving thanks to all the presenters and guests.


Participants of the webinar as per their online ID  

SI Name
1 Nowshin Fahim
2 Maya, UNICEF
3 Daniel, SIDA
4 Palash Chandra Banik, BUHS
5 Pradip Sen Gupta
6 Prof. Dr. Rowshan Ara Begum
7 AMR Mushtaque Chowdhury, BHW
8 Rafiqul Islam
9 Raihana Kamal
10 Sajjad Zohir
11 Samar Roy, MPG
12 Shaikh Masudul Alam, BHW
13 Shiyong WANG, World Bank
14 Zahirul Islam, SIDA
15 Sharmin Mizan
16 Shusmita
17 Yasmin H Ahmed, BHW
18 AISD’s iPhone
19 Dr. AM Zakir Hussain, BHW
20 Prof. Dr. Md Nazrul Islam
21 Dr. Muntasir Faisel
1. Dr. Zahir Uddin Ahmed
2. Atia Hossain
3. Dr. Md Maruf Haque Khan, BSMMU
4. Dr. AJ Faisel, WG member, BHW
5. Dr. Rezaul Haque
6. Fardina Omi
7. Fazlul Haque (SF)
8. Bazle Razee
9. Dr Ubaidur Rob, WG member, BHW
10. Abdul Karim
11. Country Director, HOPE foundation
12. Fojila Khanom
13. Iftekhar Rashid
14. Iqbal Masud
15. Jamal Uddin
16. Madu Mita
17. T Anika
18. Tareq Mahamud
19. Mr. Aumio
20. Mahbubur Rahman
21. Maleka Banu, Mohila Parishad
22. Md. Abdur Razzak, JICA
23. Mithila Faruque, BUHS
24. Mofakhar Hussain, Canada
25. Mohammad Abul Faiz
26. Morshed Chowdhury, BHW
27. Muhammad Shafiullah
28. PD Urban Primary Health
29. Dr. Khairul Islam, WG member, BHW
30. MA Sabur
31. Aneela Perveen
32. Prof. Dr. Anower Hussain
33. Dr. Jahir Uddin
34. Mahruba Khanam, BHW

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