As Bangladesh braces for a probable new wave of Covid-19, exacerbated by the Omicron variant, Brac has received some 56 million three-layered reusable cotton masks from Hanesbrands Inc, a US multinational corporation.
The masks will be distributed among the most vulnerable people in all the 64 districts through community clinics, read a press release.
Earl R Miller, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, formally handed over the masks to Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac, at a ceremony at the Brac Centre in the capital on Thursday.
Open Society Foundation (OSF), US-based funding organisation and Yale University jointly coordinated the initiative to deliver the masks to Brac.
Lokman Hossain Miah, senior secretary of the Health Services Division from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare attended the event as the chief guest.
He said, "There are two major ways to tackle transmission of Covid-19 at present. One is to ensure the wearing of masks by people including rickshaw-pullers, street vendors and day labourers who are constantly on the move for their livelihoods, and the other is vaccination. So, we must make facemasks easily available to these people."
KM Tariqul Islam, director general of NGO Affairs Bureau of Prime Minister's Office and Earl R Miller, US ambassador to Bangladesh, were present on the occasion as special guests.
US ambassador Earl R Miller said, "Brac, the Bangladesh government, the American private sector, and the US Embassy have worked together to provide over 56 million masks to the Bangladeshi people donated by Hanesbrands, the American clothing company based in North Carolina."
NGO Affairs Bureau director-general KM Tariqul Islam said, "The bulk of masks will greatly help our vulnerable communities continue their fight against the pandemic. Brac will distribute these masks across the country through the government's community clinics network.
Asif Saleh from Brac said, "This donation will allow us to scale up our preventative efforts and ensure that we can get free masks to the people who need them the most. We are extremely grateful to have support from multiple partners, which in addition to providing resources, encourages us that we are not in this fight alone."