IOM Supports COVID-19 Vaccination in Cox’s Bazar
Cox’s Bazar - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has to date facilitated the vaccination of more than 45,000 Rohingya refugees through its 17 camp-based health facilities.
IOM has been providing COVID-19 vaccination support at Cox’s Bazar since mid-2021 when the Government of Bangladesh launched a campaign to offer the vaccine to the refugees.
The second round kicked off on January 26, 2022 and is aiming to vaccinate over 96,000 refugees through the IOM-run centres.
More than 33,000 Rohingya over the age of 54 received two doses of the vaccine at the IOM facilities soon after the Bangladesh National Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination announced plans to vaccinate Rohingya communities in August 2021. This was part of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
Among those who were vaccinated is a 52-year-old refugee, Marijan.
"At first, we were fearful of this COVID-19 vaccination programme, but the volunteers raised awareness by repeatedly visiting our homes. Then I had two doses of vaccination at the hospital. Now, as we witness so many COVID-19 patients around us. We feel blessed and grateful to be vaccinated,” Marijan added.
In Cox’s Bazar, IOM has also been supporting the vaccination of members of the host community at Rangikhali and Ali Akbarpara community clinics. As of January 2022, more than 3,300 host community members had received both doses of the vaccine from the two sites.
Thus far, 75 IOM staff members have been trained by the World Health Organization and have participated in the vaccination campaign as managers, nurses, vaccinators and volunteers.
Other COVID-19 related health services provided by IOM include supporting contact tracing teams to contribute to surveillance in the camps. IOM runs nine sites for COVID-19 sample collection to enhance testing and early diagnosis. Furthermore, IOM’s two camp-level Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centres have been providing comprehensive case management of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.
“Health is among one of our biggest interventions at Cox’s Bazar. We see quality health as the starting point to all the other aspects of life,” said Nusrath Ghazzali, Chief of Mission (in charge) for IOM Bangladesh.
Further health services provided by IOM and its implementing partners in Cox’s Bazar include 49 primary and secondary healthcare facilities that provide outpatient and inpatient management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, services for child health, sexual and reproductive health, 24-hour emergency referrals, mental health and psychosocial support and support to victims of gender-based violence and community health worker services.
Refugees and populations on the move are among groups most vulnerable to COVID-19. Globally, IOM has been advocating for governments to include them in national vaccination plans.
IOM has been supporting refugees with healthcare in addition to other support services since 2017 when at least 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar and found temporary sanctuary across the border in Cox’s Bazar, currently the world’s largest refugee camp.