In the last two years, more than half a million Rohingya refugees have fled persecution in Myanmar, seeking refuge in makeshift camps in Bangladesh. In order to respond to the growing need for medical care in Bangladesh, SAMS Global Response (SGR) partnered with a local medical organization Gonoshaathata Kendra (GK) to assess the situation in Cox’s Bazar and deliver urgent medical assistance, including supporting mobile and static clinics, distributing medical supplies and addressing nutritional needs.
Since the initial assessment in November 2017, SAMS opened two primary health care centers in two refugees camps, Kutapalong and Bulukali. From December 2017 through July 2018, SAMS provided health services to 25,314 Rohingyas in areas including pediatric health, antenatal and postnatal care, infectious disease screening and care, and nutritional support therapy. More than 200-250 patients were seen each day in the two facilities.
During our operation in Bangladesh, SAMS organized and facilitated medical missions, bringing together 25 volunteers from around the world and treating 642 patients, many of whom were women and children.
“Seeing this level of horror in the pictures and articles on the news urged me to take action in some way. I can’t help but imagine what it must be like for these women and children to leave everything behind and run for their lives.” – Dr. Purnima Kabir, SAMS OBGYN Doctor.
The volunteer physicians saw an average of 100 patients a day during their mission, with services ranging from diabetes care and other chronic conditions, to more acute responses, such as surgical treatments, and emergency referrals for suspected cases of infectious diseases.
SAMS supported the improvement of community health services through a combination of trainings and program implementation. Our volunteer endocrinologist established a diabetes screening and management program at the clinics, training local doctors and paramedics on the use of a glucometer and the HbA1C machines SAMS volunteers had donated. SAMS and GK have also been working with local communities to map Traditional Birth Attendance (TBA) for assessment and future training.
Other trainings included Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) training for paramedic and volunteer staff in July 2018; community health worker trainings on antenatal and postnatal care awareness in April 2018; and Traditional Birth Attendance training in July 2018.
SAMS provided an international Emergency Obstetric Care Services (EMOC) expert to conduct and facilitate a training alongside GK teaching staff in Dhaka.
Meet our Beneficiaries
Yasin, an 11-month-old infant, arrived at a SAMS clinic for a screening. His family reported he had trouble breathing over thelast few months and had no success with syrups and other medications. After investigating, SAMS staff prescribed an inhaler for Yasin. The doctors were forced to be inventive due to limited resources and created a spacer device out of a water bottle to ensure direct delivery of the medicine to the baby’s airway. Yasin is now breathing much better and his lungs are clearer than before. He can now continue to play like a normal healthy baby.
Anjuman Ara had been unable to conceive for the past 6 years due to untreated Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Once she settled into the camp with her family, she sought out the SAMS clinic and was diagnosed and treated with Metformin once she arrived. She became a chronic patient at SAMS’ clinic in order to manage her symptoms and was happy that she finally got treated for her illness.
Usma Banu, a 55-year-old woman, came to the clinic with severe pain from a foot ulcer. After a thorough examination by a SAMS volunteer surgeon, she underwent wound debridement and dressing. While being screened, Usma was found to be diabetic and was treated appropriately. She was a chronic patient at the clinic and her wound was regularly dressed at SAMS’ clinic. If untreated, the gangrene (dead tissue) from her ulcer would have spread to her leg and could have potentially resulted in an amputation.
Updates on our Operations in Bangladesh
Since September 2018, SAMS has transitioned out of Cox’s Bazaar. The objective of SAMS’ work in the area was to establish lasting health facilities and improve community-based health services to address the critical medical needs of the Rohingya refugees, both of which were achieved.
The two health facilities in Kutapalong and Bulukali will continue operating under SAMS’ partner, Gonoshaathata Kendra (GK), to provide services ranging from primary care, maternal child care, child health care, and referral services as needed.
We would like to thank our partner GK, our tireless volunteers and medical workers, and our donors for supporting our efforts in Bangladesh and bring relief to those affected by crisis. SGR is expanding to new locations to respond to medical needs around the globe. To learn more about the work of SGR and our upcoming missions, visit us online here.