The Covid-19 outbreak caused a 10 percent decline in the government's Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) coverage in Gazipur and its adjacent urban areas in March compared to February, said a Care Bangladesh report.
The programme covered 98.4 percent children in February while coverage reduced to 88.3 percent in March, said the report.
The outbreak also caused 35 percent reduction in TT vaccination services. There was a whopping 91 percent drop in child delivery services, and 66 percent and 87 percent reduction in antenatal care and postnatal care services respectively, it added.
The report "Rapid Assessment Findings on Covid-19 Effects on Urban Health" was shared during an online discussion arranged jointly by Care Bangladesh and The Daily Star yesterday.
"Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the overall health system in general, and on health and family planning services in particular," according to the report.
It was prepared based on interviews taken via telephone and in person with 141 respondents (80 female, 61 male) between April 23-26 in Gazipur city, Savar, and Bhaluka municipality of Mymensingh.
It said there was a 50 percent decline in number of patients in March from the reported number in February at Gazipur's four upazila health complexes.
The number of general patients in February was 1,26,725 which reduced to 65,220 in March.
Due to the unavailability of doctors and routine health services in the upazila health complexes, patient flow increased in community clinics, family welfare centres, and union sub centres, the report added.
In Gazipur, 24 percent of doctors, 15 percent nurses and six percent frontline health workers were tested Covid-19 positive within the time frame of this research.
The number of health workers in Gazipur district is 516. Due to the outbreak, 291 of them were in home quarantine and 31 in institutional quarantine, said the report.
Family planning is also hampered as 80 percent satellite family planning clinics can no longer operate, because house or spot owners are not providing them any space for sessions.
Besides, 33 percent respondents mentioned facing problems in availing general health services from their previous health facility centres.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON THE RISE
Out of which, 97 percent of female respondents mentioned they faced personal or familial issues, 38 percent mentioned they had developed conflict with their husbands, and 33 percent complained about being physically abused by their husbands, said the report.
The women mentioned an increase in mental pressure and emotional burden, as they are facing severe financial crisis after their husbands lost their jobs, and they are also panicked due to the pandemic.
Addressing the discussion, Gazipur Civil Surgeon Khairuzzaman said they faced some problems regarding EPI coverage but could overcome those.
He said 25 new doctors have been appointed in the district recently and the civil surgeon's office is trying to provide necessary health services in the district.
He urged different factory owners to maintain proper health guidelines to ensure hygiene and health safety for workers there.
Addressing as chief guest, Gazipur City Corporation Mayor Jahangir Alam said they are ready to provide any sort of support to health workers to fight the pandemic.
In his welcome address, Care Bangladesh Deputy Country Director Prabodh Devkota said collective action from all including donors, NGOs, government and private sector actors is required to fight the pandemic.
Jahirul Alam, head of urban health at Care Bangladesh presented the report while the discussion was addressed, among others, by Mohiuddin Osmani, joint chief (planning) of health ministry.