The Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Alliance has iterated its urge to the government to prioritise field-level staff and volunteers of the non-governmental organisations engaged in the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
As their work requires frequent physical presence near people exposing them to a high risk of contracting covid-19, they need to be put on the priority list for vaccination, said the CSO Alliance, a recently formed platform of NGOs and civil society groups.
The urge came from discussion sessions organised by the CSO Alliance on 26 June and 3 July to further strengthen and scale up its 'Community resilience to prevent coronavirus' currently under implementation in the 35 high-risk districts of the country, reads a press release.
Around 850 local, national and international NGOs/CSOs attended the discussion meetings to devise pathways for scale-up and strengthen the campaign.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak in Bangladesh, CSO Alliance, with BRAC as its secretariat, has been campaigning for community-driven response for the prevention of Covid-19.
On June 1, the CSO Alliance brought together 41 NGOs to collaboratively implement the 'Community resilience to prevent coronavirus' initiative in the 35 high-risk districts, with an aim to spread information on coronavirus prevention, proper use of masks and vaccine registration along with awareness messages addressing misinformation around Covid-19 and vaccination.
A major part of the campaign entails empowering community leaders with knowledge on covid-19 issues to ensure preventive behaviours at hotspots including mosques, transport hubs, shops and markets.
The discussion events on 26 June and 3 July were attended by, among others Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon president and eminent human rights activist Sultana Kamal, PRIP Trust Executive Director Aroma Dutta, MJF Executive Director Saheen Anam, Bangladesh Mohila Parishad Executive Director Dr Maleka Banu, Dhaka Ahsania Mission Executive Director Dr Ehsanur Rahman, ADD Country Director Shafiqul Islam, Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) Executive Director AHM Noman Khan, CUP Executive Director Khondker Rebaka Sun Yat, disability rights campaigner Monsur Ahmed Choudhuri, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong, AVAS Executive Director Rahima Sultana Kazal, GHASHFUL Chief Executive Officer AR Jafree, and Friends In Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB) executive director Bazle Mostafa Razee.
During the meetings, field level frontline workers demanded due recognition of their role and priority for vaccination as well as provision of health safety equipment.
PRIP Trust executive director Aroma Dutta said, "The development organisations have always complemented government efforts in any national disasters and it is no different in covid-19 prevention activities. I expect the organisations will continue to assist in the government's different development activities in future as well."
CSO Alliance coordinator and former adviser to the caretaker government Rasheda K Chowdhury said, "Since the beginning of the outbreak, field level workers engaged with different NGOs have devoted themselves in the covid-19 public awareness activities.
They have always stood beside people although their work puts them at risk of infection. We call upon the government to prioritise health and protection of the field workers."
Eminent human rights activist Sultana Kamal said, "Fight against covid-19 is a national emergency. We have no time to rely on the government or the donor agencies. Everyone including the NGOs shall come forward and join hands with the government in the fight against the pandemic in whatever capacity they can make".
BRAC's Senior Director KAM Morshed said, "Since the pandemic outbreak BRAC has prioritised bringing together all the NGOs in a coordinated effort in prevention of the transmission of the disease in Bangladesh."
He called upon everyone to come forward and join hands to speed up the initiative.
The NGO and CSO leaders also stressed that public-private partnership between the NGO sector and government will make the campaign against the pandemic much stronger.
At the meeting, the NGO representatives also agreed to jointly celebrate the golden jubilee of independence of Bangladesh and the birth centenary of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, with national and divisional level as well as thematic events.