Regional learning sharing on COVID-19: organized by Bangladesh Health Watch

On July 20, 2020, Bangladesh Health Watch organized an online-based knowledge sharing discussion on the ongoing COVID 19 situation titled “Success with COVID–19: learning from Kerala (India), Thailand and Vietnam.”

In this online discussion, expert of the three countries Dr. K. R. Thankappan, Professor, Central University of Kerala, India; Dr. Chawetsan Namwat, Chief, Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), Bangkok, Thailand; Dr. Tran Mai Oanh, Director, Health Strategy & Policy Institute (HSPI), Hanoi, Vietnam presented their experiences in this webinar where government officials, public health expert, academics, journalist and civil society members were present. Dr. Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, Convener, Bangladesh Health Watch (BHW) moderated the session.

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In the presentation of Kerala, Dr. Thankappan said, “though Kerala was very vulnerable to COVID due to prevalence of many co-morbidity factors like Elderly proportion 12.6% Vs 8.6% in India, type 2 Diabetes 19.2% Vs 7.7% in India, hypertension 30% Vs 25% in India, the highest prevalence of Asthma in South India, one of the highest incidence of cancers and population density but managed the pandemic successfully due to leadership and commitment. Now in Kerala, they only have 267 cases per million whereas in India it is 699 and the case fatality rate is only 0.38 in Kerala Vs 2.60 in all over India. Some of the major factors of their success are, rigorous testing, contact tracing, and quarantine, community kitchens lead by local government, expansion of internet bandwidth and connectivity, political commitment, strong decentralized Governments, and media support.”

“Expatriates returning to the country have been assured of a 14-day hotel quarantine and two PCR tests in Thailand. During the lockdown, curfews were imposed from 11 pm to 4 am, educational institutions were closed and public gatherings were banned, international flights were banned and the province was subject to strict curfews,” Dr. Namwat said While sharing the Thailand experience.

One of the successful nation in the world in terms of COVID management is Vietnam and telling the factors behind the success Dr. Mai Oanh said, “Commitment and determination of the country leaders, engagement of the entire political system and multi-stakeholders, control points of entry, testing, and contact tracing, four-tier classification, timely and transparent communication, focus on ethnic minority and remote areas, and focus on people with co-morbidities. And as a result till 19 July the positive case in Vietnam is only 382 with no death recorded. In reply to a question Dr. Mai said, Vietnam never hides any information regarding contract tracing, confirm the case and probable risk areas.”

In addition, all three countries have made the necessary preparations to tackle COVID since January. The government and politicians have worked together with a strong conviction to tackle Kovid and involve the local people and elected representatives in their work. The government has involved health experts, pathologists, and civil society. It has been successful in dealing with the epidemic using sustainable management and surveillance systems.

In the concluding speech the moderator Dr. AMR Chowdhury said, though Bangladesh did a lot in COVID management but we are ready to learn from the success of other countries. The stories will inspire us to take some effective measures to manage COVID pandemic more successfully in Bangladesh.

The meeting was attended by public experts, doctors, NGO representatives, journalists, donors and concerned persons from various government departments.

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