Bandhu Social Welfare Society
Key populations were satisfied with their engagement in the process of the C19RM, and hoped that their recommendations would be implemented
The Global Fund established the COVID-19 response mechanism (C19RM) in 2020 to support countries to respond to COVID-19, and funds the following areas:
- COVID-19 response;
- COVID-19 related adaptation of programs to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria; and
- Strengthening health and community systems.
In the funding request development, there needs to be effective and meaningful key population engagement.
Bandu has kindly shared their experience on the C19RM.
Update on the COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh, and the needs of key populations
- Up until 15 September 2021, Bangladesh has reported 2,074 new daily confirmed cases, accumulated 1,536,341 confirmed cases and 27,058 coronavirus-related deaths according to Reuters
- Forced migration/displacement, due to the financial crisis and consequent debts for many people
- Increased domestic gender-based and gender expression-based violence
- Surge in self-harm and suicidal tendencies. as traumas have increased with the lack of counselling opportunities
- Deprivation of proper medical treatment deepened, and additional challenges regarding digitalisation of vaccination and lack of digital literacy among users
- Stigma and harassment during testing and vaccination, due to lack of national identity card or mismatched gender expression
- Unaffordable treatment of COVID-related illnesses
Needs of key population
- Access to proper information, sanitisation, hassle-free vaccine registration and testing
- Anti-discriminatory vaccination and treatment
- Direct financial aid for basic needs, such as food and accommodation
- Emergency mental health counselling and support during and following physical or mental violence
- Continuation of proper medical treatment for people living with HIV and others
C19RM processes and how key populations were involved?
All C19RM funding requests are coordinated and submitted by the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM). Bangladesh Community Forum (BCF) comprising people who inject drugs, transgender, people living with HIV, sex workers, men who have sex with men and migrant networks were reached out to, by the CCM with the C19RM funding proposal.
Key populations shared their recommendations required to tackle the COVID-19 situation, included sharing information regarding COVID-19 treatment, mental health support, access to registration, testing and treatment, support to life sustenance, prioritising the betterment of key populations during the pandemic. Recommendations were anticipated to be submitted to the global fund by the CCM. Key populations were satisfied with their engagement in the process of the C19RM, and hoped that their recommendations would be implemented.
What went well, and what could be improved?
Bandhu and other community-based activists continued to work on:
- Raising awareness, both on- and offline regarding safety protocols and measurements
- Providing proper information for registration, testing and treatment for COVID-19
- Arranging relief funds for key populations, both at the personal and organisational level
- Delivering food reliefs and carrying COVID-19 patients to the hospital during lockdowns
- Arranging online programs to provide mental health support and stress relief
The following are responses to improve the situation of people most-at-risk/marginalised communities:
- Direct need assessment of key populations
- Check and monitor the condition of those most marginalised – those who have been provided with, as well as those who have been deprived of aid
- Increase support for basic needs, including food, nutrition, accommodation
- Direct financial assistance, along with non-discriminatory livelihood opportunities
- Assistance with COVID-19 vaccination registration, testing, and medication
- Increase access to legal aid and mental health support
- Sensitizing the mainstream population towards these populations
Any message to the Global Fund on the C19RM?
The followings should be prioritised to achieve effective responses for conditions of key populations to be improved:
- Engagement and collaboration between the government healthcare sector, NGOs and volunteer activists on the C19RM processes
- Ensure adequate safety materials, including sanitizer, masks, and ensure proper information in the drop in center/field office, as well as at the grassroots level
- Incorporation of key populations in job opportunities related to the C19RM processes and other programs of the Global Fund