Bangladesh: MSF opens a new COVID-19 treatment centre in Cox’s Bazar

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) opens a new COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre in the Nayapara refugee camp, in the Teknaf upazila (sub-district) of Cox’s Bazar district.

The opening of the Severe Acute Respiratory InfectionIsolation and Treatment Centre (SARI-ITC) is part of MSF’s continuing scale-up of activities in response to the spread of COVID-19 across this part of south-east Bangladesh.

The Nayapara SARI-ITC will have a 100-bed maximum capacity and starts with 20 operational beds. It adds to the existing healthcare network in the district, supporting the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to manage the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

“We are here to serve people in need of assistance in these difficult times. We want to establish a relationship of trust with the local Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees communities, so that we can overcome this challenge together,” says MSF head of the mission, Muriel Boursier.

The centre can treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, as it has emergency medical support and oxygen concentrators. It has been built using the lessons learned from other COVID-19 responses around the world and follows the latest guidelines on infection prevention and control (IPC).

“We are offering patients a safe place for isolation and treatment. There is a visitors’ pathway where families and caretakers can see their hospitalised relatives and also observe the treatment procedures directly,” adds Boursier.

The international organisation Terre des hommes (TDH) will screen patients on arrival and run the outpatient department, while MSF will be in charge of testing and care for the admitted patients.

The team at the centre will work closely with community leaders, communities and staff at nearby health posts in the refugee camp (Camp 26) to ensure that people showing symptoms of COVID-19 can be properly and safely referred to the Nayapara SARI-ITC.

"MSF would like to thank the Government of Bangladesh for their support and for granting all approvals to make the SARI-ITC a reality,” says Boursier.

To help tackle the pandemic while maintaining our essential health services, MSF continues its strong partnership with national health efforts through our projects in Kamrangrichar, Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, running 11 hospitals and primary health centres.

This covers a range of inpatient and outpatient services, including emergency and intensive care, paediatrics, obstetrics, sexual and reproductive healthcare, treatment for survivors of sexual violence and patients with non-communicable diseases, and occupational health.

In response to COVID-19, MSF teams have begun health promotion activities to raise awareness and educate communities. They are also training frontline workers on IPC and prevention measures and have set up isolation wards in all MSF facilities.

MSF has been committed to supporting Bangladesh with medical humanitarian assistance for almost 50 years, implementing a range of activities across the country in response to evolving needs. MSF first provided medical assistance in Bangladesh in 1972.