• Evaluation of community based surveillance in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 2019

      Van Boetzelaer, E; Chowdhury, S; Etsay, B; Faruque, A; Lenglet, A; Kuehne, A; Carrion-Martin, I; Keating, P; Dada, M; Vyncke, J; et al. (Public Library of Sciences, 2020-12-23)
      Background Following an influx of an estimated 742,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) established an active indicator-based Community Based Surveillance (CBS) in 13 sub-camps in Cox’s Bazar in August 2017. Its objective was to detect epidemic prone diseases early for rapid response. We describe the surveillance, alert and response in place from epidemiological week 20 (12 May 2019) until 44 (2 November 2019). Methods Suspected cases were identified through passive health facility surveillance and active indicator-based CBS. CBS-teams conducted active case finding for suspected cases of acute watery diarrhea (AWD), acute jaundice syndrome (AJS), acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), dengue, diphtheria, measles and meningitis. We evaluate the following surveillance system attributes: usefulness, Positive Predictive Value (PPV), timeliness, simplicity, flexibility, acceptability, representativeness and stability. Results Between epidemiological weeks 20 and 44, an average of 97,340 households were included in the CBS per surveillance cycle. Household coverage reached over 85%. Twenty-one RDT positive cholera cases and two clusters of AWD were identified by the CBS and health facility surveillance that triggered the response mechanism within 12 hours. The PPV of the CBS varied per disease between 41.7%-100%. The CBS required 354 full-time staff in 10 different roles. The CBS was sufficiently flexible to integrate dengue surveillance. The CBS was representative of the population in the catchment area due to its exhaustive character and high household coverage. All households consented to CBS participation, showing acceptability. Discussion The CBS allowed for timely response but was resource intensive. Disease trends identified by the health facility surveillance and suspected diseases trends identified by CBS were similar, which might indicate limited additional value of the CBS in a dense and stable setting such as Cox’s Bazar. Instead, a passive community-event-based surveillance mechanism combined with health facility-based surveillance could be more appropriate.
    • 'Working to stay healthy', health-seeking behaviour in Bangladesh's urban slums: a qualitative study.

      van der Heijden, J; Gray, N; Stringer, B; Rahman, A; Akhter, S; Kalon, S; Dada, M; Biswas, A (BioMed Central, 2019-05-17)
      BACKGROUND: Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh are the largest slum areas in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2013, Médecins Sans Frontières initiated an urban healthcare programme in these areas providing services for factory workers and responding to the sexual and reproductive health needs of young women. Little in-depth information is available on perceptions of health and health seeking behaviour in this population. We aimed to provide a better understanding of community perceptions toward health and health care in order to inform programme strategies. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with women (n = 13); factory workers (n = 14); and key informants (n = 13). Participants were selected using purposive maximum variation sampling and voluntarily consented to take part. Topic guides steered participant-led interviews, which were audio-recorded, translated and transcribed from Bangla into English. By comparing cases, we identified emerging themes, patterns and relationships in the data. NVivo11© was used to sort and code the data. RESULTS: Emerging themes indicated that in Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh, health is seen as an asset necessary for work and, thus, for survival. Residents navigate a highly fragmented health system looking for 'quick fixes' to avoid time off work, with the local pharmacy deemed 'good enough' for 'common' health issues. Health care seeking for 'serious' conditions is characterised by uncertainty, confusion, and unsatisfactory results. Decisions are made communally and shaped by collective perceptions of quality care. People with limited socio-economic capital have few options for care. 'Quality care' is perceived as comprehensive care 'under one roof,' including predictive biomedical diagnostics and effective medication, delivered through a trusting relationship with the care provider. CONCLUSIONS: Health seeking behaviour of slum dwellers of Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh is based on competing priorities, where quick and effective care is key, focussed on the ability to work and generate income. This takes place in a fragmented healthcare system characterised by mistrust of providers, and where navigation is informed by word-of-mouth experiences of peers. Improving health in this context demands a comprehensive and integrated approach to health care delivery, with an emphasis on rapid diagnosis, effective treatment and referral, and improved trust in care providers. Health education must be developed in collaboration with the community to identify knowledge gaps, support decision-making, and be channelled through existing networks. Further research should consider the effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve the practice of pharmacists.