BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health (BRAC JPGSPH), BRAC University, and World Health Organization (WHO) organized a seminar recently at Hotel Long Beach, Cox’s Bazar. The seminar was organized to disseminate the study findings of an ethnographic assessment on the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) behavior of Rohingya women in the camps among health professionals, development workers, academicians and researchers along with stakeholders from the government, UN bodies and NGOs.
According to the findings, Rohingya women have a lack of awareness of ante-natal and post-natal care, facility based delivery, newborn care and family planning services. Rohingya women have a tendency to seek care from local Burmese doctors and prefer traditional birth attendants during child birth. Mistrust and miscommunication regarding facility delivery, distance, long waiting time, lack of privacy and comfort in facilities discourage the use of health services. Despite the growing awareness among women, the use of family planning is still low because of the religious and socio-cultural beliefs and norms. It has been seen that there are also certain enablers to use of SRH services such as interactions with community health workers (CHWs), supportive and aware family members and incentives such as food vouchers at the facility, among other things.
The seminar commenced with a welcome address from Professor Dr Kaosar Afsana of BRAC JPGSPH; who is also the Principal Investigator of the study. Adama Thorlie, Risk Communication Consultant from the WHO gave an opening speech describing the purpose of the study and discussing the collaboration with BRAC. Nazrana Khaled, Deputy Coordinator, BRAC JPGSPH presented the study findings.
Following the presentation, the participants of the seminar took part in a group discussion to identify practical recommendations based on the findings of the study. A number of recommendations have been suggested. Including adolescent girls in the services, creating a community advisory group from the Rohingya population, including religious leaders and Imam’s wife as community health workers and improving resources in existing facilities were among the key recommendations proposed by the participants. Dr Abu Mohammad Toha, Health Coordinator from The Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s (RRRC) Office; Dr Pintu Kanti Bhattacharjee, Deputy-Director, Family Planning and Prof. Brigadier General (Retd.) Mohammad Ali, Chief Coordinator from the Ministry of Health and Family Planning, Cox’s Bazar, the Government of Bangladesh; Diana Garde, SRHR Technical Officer, Health Sector; and Dr Sanchoy Kumar Chanda from WHO and Dr Zahidul Quayyum, Professor, BRAC JPGSPH, were notably present in the seminar among other participants.