Global climate change is increasing Bangladesh’s vulnerability to floods and raising the potential for infectious disease outbreaks, says the latest Health and Science bulletin of the icddr,b.
The assessment, titled ‘Preparedness of Primary Healthcare facilities to respond to Infectious Disease Outbreaks in Flood-prone Sub-Districts of Bangladesh’, identified gaps in preparedness of government primary care facilities or Upazila Health Compolexes (UHCs) in flood-prone sub-districts.
The icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) used a self-administered survey among 69 UHC managers to assess seven UHC core capacities critical for outbreaks response.
The major deficiencies observed were in structural, stockpiling, and human resource capacities.
Ninety-one percent of the respondents felt that UHCs had limited preparedness for outbreaks response.
Insufficient training of healthcare providers, low motivation of clinical staff, substantial staff shortages with rapid turnover, and lack of epidemiologists posted at UHCs were major impediments to preparedness.
It said development of a contingency plan that secures emergency financing and supplies and establishes a mechanism for engaging field workers during outbreaks could enhance the capacity of UHCs during an outbreak.
Geographic location, population density, and a weak coastal protection system make Bangladesh vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.
Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, including floods in Bangladesh.
People in flood-affected areas often have poor access to safe water, sanitation, and healthcare services, live in overcrowded conditions, and are more likely to experience outbreaks of diarrhea, acute respiratory and vector-borne diseases.