MSF organizes a webinar on the impact on mental health on women and children during COVID-19 in Bangladesh

International medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has organized a webinar for the first time in Bangladesh, on the impact of mental health on women and children of COVID-19. The webinar was broadcast live from the MSF Bangladesh official Facebook page.

During the hour-long webinar, five panellists discussed the perceptions and issues around mental health among women and children in Bangladesh, amidst COVID-19.

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Panellists included Line Director of the Non-communicable disease control programme director from the Directorate of General of Health Services (DGHS), Dr Md Habibur Rahman, deputy programme manager from DGHS, Dr Maruf Ahmed Khan, World Health Organization national consultant (mental health), Hasina Momotaz, assistant professor for theNational Institute of Mental Health, Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, and Gazi Farzana Sharmin Srabony, the mental health supervisor for MSF Bangladesh.
“The percentage of mental health issues is greater among women and children” said Dr Helal Uddin. ”This is not about education or knowing. This is about breaking the taboo”, he added.

Speaking of being able to access medical assistance for psychological problems, the speakers emphasised the need for counselling at the grassroots level. In addtion, they pointed out that medical malpractice has decreased reasonably in the last decade, which is a good sign in tackling stigma.
Of the government’s support for mental health services, Dr Maruf said, “DGHS has taken many initiatives to spread awareness about the importance of looking after mental health. The government mandates mental health support for every pregnant woman. Also, when having vaccinations, each mother goes through mental health counselling. Also unlike, many other countries, we have mental health rights mandated by law”.

“We encourage women to speak about their challenges, and to seek help from anyone they feel they can trust. Everyone should take care of their mental health during this COVID-19. ”, advised Hasina Momotaz, national consultant, WHO on nurturing mental health during this pandemic.

The orators also divulged their concerns how difficult it can be for people who are caring for children during the pandemic, confined to their homes while facing financial challenges as a result of the lockdown.

MSF mental health supervisor Gazi Farzana highlighted some of the resources available for carers during COVID-19, including MSF’s free essential mental health care and counselling in all of its projects in Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar.

MSF believes mental health is equally as imporant as physical health. Welcoming people from different organizations and backgrounds on a shared platform reflects MSF’s cause—tackling health issues with a collaborative approach. This webinar reached nearly 4 thousand people within a few hours. As a result of the webinars success, MSF is planning future webinars, tackling health issues and questions from the community.

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