Rohit is a Community Paramedic at Patuakhali, a remote area in Bangladesh. Apart from treating and advising community residents on primary healthcare diseases and maternal health, Rohit plays a critical role in educating community members about COVID-19 disease, symptoms and stipulated safety measures. Community Paramedics like him all around Bangladesh are also raising awareness and removing fears, which are usual reactions to the episodes of a public health crisis.
“During the lockdown, it became very difficult and risky for the pregnant women to go for regular checkups in the government hospitals. So, during this time, I started visiting many of the pregnant women in my community for antenatal and postnatal checkups while maintaining the appropriate health precautions. Project ASTHA has provided us immense support in safely continuing the regular healthcare services.” Says Community Paramedic Rina Akhtar from Sunamgonj, Sylhet, Bangladesh.
Community Paramedics are on the frontlines in the Bangladesh’s hard-to-reach communities for any health crisis. As COVID-19 spreads, the requirement for general healthcare services has increased in the vulnerable communities. The brave, hard-working Community Paramedics continue to be the first responders that communities rely on to stay healthy.Despite movement restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing, Community Paramedics are not only catering to the healthcare needs of the marginalized community but also supporting the government in collecting samples from potential COVID-19 patients. During the ongoing pandemic, project ASTHA has extended its support to these brave frontline health workforces to restrict community spread of COVID-19 and maintain high-quality healthcare services at the grassroot communities.
This visual story from the field demonstrates that courageous journey of the Community Paramedics in Bangladesh and tells us about their continued fight against COVID-19.
Achieving Sustainability Towards Healthcare Access (ASTHA) (formerly known as TARSAN) was introduced in 2011 with an aim of reducing acute shortage of skilled healthcare providers and persistent growth of youth unemployment in rural and underserved areas of Bangladesh.
ASTHA collaborated with the government of Bangladesh to create a professional healthcare training for young adults – The Community Paramedic Training Programme. As a result of project activities, the Community Paramedic Training is now an established programme that creates skilled healthcare providers, who are qualified to provide primary healthcare services with special focus on Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Family Planning (FP).
Phase II (2019 – 2022) is the latest phase of ASTHA, implemented by Swisscontact and funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and six private foundations including Novartis and Julius Baer Foundation. It is designed to facilitate the improvement and retention of Community Paramedic (CP) services in rural, marginalized areas of Bangladesh.