Rohingyas averse to family planning

Ahamed Ullah, back from Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar

28 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Newborn babies are being welcomed every day in the camps of the forcefully-displaced Rohingyas who hardly bother about family planning.

The Rohingyas do not have any interest in family planning and even encourage each Rohingya couple to give birth to six to seven children, said health workers working at the camps in Ukhiya of Cox’s Bazar.

As a result, the Rohingya camps are getting new members every day, resulting in increasing burden on Bangladesh, which has provided shelter for the displaced Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.

“Most of the Rohingyas have misconceptions about family planning. They do not have any interest in family planning,” Dr Fahmida Shabnam, who works at the Rohingya camps, told the Daily Sun. 

Yusuf Hossain, father of six children, staying at Rohingya Camp-4, echoed with the physician, saying that he does not bother about any family planning.

 Healthcare is being provided for the Rohingyas through 39 primary health centres and 97 health posts in the remote hills of Kutupalong in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. Almost all kinds of health services, including family planning and maternity healthcare service, are available there.

During a recent visit to ‘Obat-Prantic Health Post’ in Rohingya Camp-4– Kutupalong, Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar, this correspondent has found that hundreds of patients are waiting to take health care. Rohingyas are getting various health services from the health post.

The rooms of the health post were made of bamboo-cane on the hill. The health post has a reception room, an emergency room, an outpatient room, a dental room, a pharmacy, maternity services and laboratory services.

Doctors and staff of the health post were following proper health guidelines due to coronavirus. Along with healthcare, doctors are also giving awareness advice on the coronavirus. If any patient forgets to bring the mask, the health post staff provided him/her with a mask.

Anwara Begum, a resident of the camp, said she went to the health post with the child as he has a fever. She returned with free medicine after seeing a doctor.

Dr Sanjib Bhowmik, dental doctor of Obat-Prantic Health Post, told the Daily Sun, “All kinds of dental services are available here. There are sophisticated tools. Even dental fillings are done here to enhance the beauty of the teeth.”

The health post, funded by Obat Helpers at Rohingya Camp-4, has so far provided free medical treatment for more than 100,000 Rohingyas. There are 31 staff members, including three MBBS doctors and two BDS doctors (dental) working to provide health services.

According to a report by the Save the Children, an estimated number of 76,000 babies were born in Rohingya camps until May 31, 2020.

“The children’s agency found 75,971 children under three years in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar -- or nine percent of the total refugee population. The implication is almost all of them were born after their mothers fled to Bangladesh,” the report said.        

Dr Fahmida Shabnam, general physician of Obat-Prantic Health Post, told the Daily Sun, “If there is no complicated patient, all kinds of health services, including maternity, are being provided here. Very rarely we referred elsewhere.”

“On an average, 200 patients are being treated at this health post from morning to afternoon every day,” she said.

She also said, “We have various items of equipment, including oxygen concentrator, aspirator machine, portable ventilator, non-invasive ventilator, patient monitor and autoclave machine, to provide health care in case of emergency.”

For diagnosis blood sugar test, pregnancy test, syphilis test, malaria test, HBS (AG) test, ECG machine and ultrasound machine are also in the health post, Dr Shabnam said.

According to sources, there are currently 80 NGOs working in the Rohingya camps. Since September 2018, Obat - Prantic health posts provided health services at the Rohingya camp in Ukhiya upazila of Cox’s Bazar with the technical assistance of Refugee Crisis Foundation and MedGlobal with the financial support of Obat Helpers.

According to the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), since March 26 last year, no one has been allowed to the camps except for urgent food and healthcare needs. In this situation, awareness activities are being carried out through specific representatives by reducing public gatherings.

Masum Mahbub, director (Policy and Partner Engagement) OBAT Helpers Inc USA, said, the residents of the camp are being made aware of maintaining social distance, using masks, washing hands with soap and presenting the negative aspects of child marriage.

These activities are being carried out through the representatives due to coronavirus, he added.

Bangladesh now hosts more than 11 lakh Rohingyas. In the latest influx, nearly 9 lakh Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar amid a military crackdown.