Bangladesh: Renovated emergency room brings health care closer to vulnerable communities

27 November 2015
Bangladesh: Renovated emergency room brings health care closer to vulnerable communities
The renovated emergency department at the Teknaf health complex now provides improved medical services. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC /R. Sultana Toma

It was a bright sunny day at the end of October when Bibi Ayesha rushed her daughter into the emergency room in Teknaf. The girl's blood pressure had fallen but after a quick response from the medical staff, she was soon stable and ready to go back home.

"Diarrhoea or pneumonia, it doesn't matter what the medical emergency is – this is the health care facility that we come first to receive treatment," says 25-year-old mother Ayesha, comforting her daughter. "It is important to receive help when you need it."

However, only recently has the sole government health-care provider in the area been equipped with a much needed, large emergency room, alongside a separate observation room for the critically injured and medical staff around the clock.

"I remember seeing seriously injured and sick people lying on the balcony because the space in the old emergency room was too congested," says Abdur Rakib, a local Madrasa teacher witnessing the opening, "Now everything looks better organized, spacious and cleaner than before."

Rehabilitating infrastructure and health-care services

Teknaf and Ukhiya, the southernmost sub-districts of Bangladesh, are home to, or provide temporary shelter for, thousands of people, particularly mothers and children affected by seasonal diseases and suffer from poor health. In addition, the wider area of the Cox's Bazar district is both departure point for migrants undertaking a sea crossing to South-East Asia, and a place to which many migrants find themselves returning and in need of immediate medical care.

In June 2014, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), supported by the ICRC, launched a project lending support to the Teknaf and Ukhiya health complexes. The aims of the project, initiated at the request of the Bangladesh Ministry of Health, are to improve the infrastructure and health-care services for all people in the area.

In particular, work has concentrated on improving the electricity supply system, the provision of water and sanitation, and hygiene and waste management, as well as ensuring adequate human resources and basic medical supplies.

The Ministry of Health, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the ICRC have worked closely together with local authorities to improve health-care services in the Cox's Bazar district. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC /R. Sultana Toma

Renovation of the emergency department in Teknaf was a key component of the project, as highlighted by the Senior Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Habibur Rahman Khan, who said: "This activity is the result of good team work between the government, BDRCS and the ICRC, with whom we have worked hand-in-hand to better serve vulnerable communities."

At the inauguration ceremony, Habibur added: "I would like to see the project replicated in medical centres elsewhere, helping to fill the gaps in providing quality health-care services."

Facts & figures

  • The emergency room in Teknaf is now a functional and adequate space complete with stabilization, observation and procedure rooms, as well as storage, water and sanitation facilities, and a pharmacy
  • Over 12,000 patients were admitted to both Teknaf and Ukhiya health-care facilities in 2014, while between January and October 2015, an additional 12,106 patients were treated
  • Management of medical waste has improved through the provision of more cleaning staff, a cleaning campaign, coloured bins for segregated waste, a temporary incinerator, and a sharp's pit
  • Functionality of the wards has improved through more nurses and doctors, better mattresses, and rehabilitation of the electricity supply and windows
  • Better water supply and sanitation facilities have also improved the cleanliness and functionality of the wards, and delivery and emergency rooms