Misinformation and misperception regarding Covid-19 still prevail among marginalised groups, which needs to be addressed, say experts at a discussion on Monday, citing a new study.
So, they suggested engaging local pharmacies, community health facilities, community radio and local youth groups to reach out to marginalised groups with proper information.
Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), Brac University convened the second "policy clinic" on the study titled "Voices from the margins and inclusive policy responses to Covid-19 Pandemic.
Policy clinic is a unique way of validating evidence by relevant experts in the field and prioritising policy responses.
Policy clinic engaged participants from multidisciplinary backgrounds, including academics, researchers, public health experts, bureaucrats, rights activists, journalists, and community leaders, in a policy exercise that inspired rich discussion and insights.
The participants identified critical policy gaps through interactive sessions.
Taufique Joarder, consultant at WHO and secretary general at Public Health Foundation, at the event said health equity and other socio-economic determinants are critical to be addressed.
The overall healthcare infrastructure requires improvement to serve the already-marginalised groups effectively, he added.
Dr Mizanur Rahman, director at BARD, suggested that local marginalised voices be given a seat at the policymaking table.
Almost half of the surveyed population changed the location of their residence during the pandemic as a coping strategy. Borrowing money from different sources was the most reported coping strategy adopted by 71% of marginalised people, the study said.
The majority of the marginalised groups surveyed expressed scepticism, 63%, on being included or targeted in the economic rebuilding programmes of the government.
Ethnic and religious minority communities had a lower sense of inclusion (23%), while rural poor were the most hopeful (52.5%). An overwhelming 94% of the surveyed population expressed their preference for mobile banking, while support through local government representatives was the least popular choice (1%), the study added.
Some 37% households mentioned taking part in local initiatives like preventing outsiders from entering the area (75.6%), preventing people from going out of the area (58.5%), and stopping local gatherings (41.1%). Compared to ethnic and religious minorities (51%) and rural poor communities (42%), urban slum dwellers took less locally-led initiatives (19%).
The policy clinic was chaired by Manzoor Hasan, executive director at CPJ, Brac University, and was moderated by Dr M Shahidul Islam, research fellow at CPJ, Brac University.