Lessons learned during COVID-19 in Bangladesh

Dr. Sabrina Ahmed
Nationality: Bangladesh
Curranty working as: PhD Fellow, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan.
IEA Member
The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously impacted the health system, social atmosphere, economic growth and the overall well-being, living condition in Bangladesh. The first case in Bangladesh was identified on early March, 2020 and till then the number of the cases along with mortality is increasing overtime.

Being an early career epidemiologist I had an idea that the pandemic will hit this country hard and it was even beyond the assumption. The belief of hot and humid temperature can cause a suppressed outbreak flew away with time when we observed the rapid rising cases and deaths. Frontline fighters like the doctors, nurses, other hospital staff were affected so badly. We have lost more than 200 doctors and health care providers due to this COVID -19 pandemic and many of them had premature death without having any know co-morbidities. To date the total number of cases in Bangladesh is 379,738 and total death is 5,555, total active cases are 79,792. The ray of hope is that being the most densely populated country in this world the situation could be even worse. 

Now the epidemiologists and policy planers need to understand why the mortality is less in our country and entire south Asia compared to the western countries despite our lower socioeconomic condition. A recent article published report suggested that in Dhaka city the capital of Bangladesh around 45% population and 74% slum dwellers developed antibody against COVID19 , though there are some controversies. (link: https://tbsnews.net/coronavirus-chronicle/covid-19-bangladesh/45-dhaka-population-develops-covid-19-antibodies-144205?fbclid=IwAR3_gsahXA5zSTPva7mjLavKFh-7nrSe58b-zz55Rqga30VCe3R9kygcXSs). Still, I strongly believe the concept of hard immunity is still a faraway to achieve.

Now I get back to the highlighted point of the write up “Lesson learned.” Our learning is very comprehensive in every sphere - it could be as follows:

Lesson learned as an epidemiologist: There is nothing important than conducting research to know about this pandemic regarding its progression, inflammation, sign-symptoms , pathophysiology for developing complication and also about the prevalence of outcome , incidence, fatality rate; all needs to be explored to understand this devastating disease. We are constantly working to achieve our research objectives through observational and clinical case studies.

Lesson learned as a common individual: There is no alternative to maintaining social distancing, personal hygiene that includes proper hand washing, using hand sanitizers, wearing mask and  being conscious for not only yourself but also for your family and others. In my daily life I always maintain those.

Lesson Learned as a clinician: The pandemic has affected the doctors and the other health providers badly, therefore good quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a mandate, and it is the utmost responsibility of the government and other authorized organizations to ensure proper protective measures for the caregivers before involving them in treating the patients with very contagious disease. It’s hard to see someone losing their lives as a doctor and similarly it’s hard to see when my family suffers due to my profession and job responsibilities, therefore safety is first.

And finally there is no alternative of an effective vaccination.

I tried to keep my write up very simple, so that it could reach to all. It’s not only about my story , it is the common scenario for all. The message is very clear that maybe we can’t stop this pandemic right now may be but if we can implement what we have learned can surely help us to stop its progression.