A day in the life of a Rohingya refugee

Rohingya Camp Filippo Grandi UNHCR

Refugees chief Filippo Grandi this weekend heard at first hand the challenges facing Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Roger Arnold

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Dr. Imtiaz Hafiz, Medical Officer of Primary Health Center at Relief International who also serves as a Clinic in-Charge OPD (Out Patient Department) in the PHC funded by UNICEF at WW Zone, Rohingya Camp. Dr. Imtiaz Hafiz is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The Rohingya are the world’s most persecuted community who are forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMN). They are not recognised as Myanmar’s 135 official ethnic groups and have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982. Nearly all of the Rohingya in Myanmar live in the western coastal state of Rakhine and are not allowed to leave without government permission.

It is one the poorest states in the country with a lack of basic services and opportunities. Recently there has been a major surge of FDMN to Bangladesh due to the hike of persecution and violence in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. The Myanmar government runs the textbook example of ethnic cleansing in the 21st Century whereas the international community remains silent to solve the issue.

Living conditions

The displaced nationals from Myanmar are living in extremely overcrowded tents made in bare lands or mountains at Bangladesh. The tents are made from bamboos and tarpaulin. The hygiene is compromised resulting in spread of waterborne diseases in the community.

Communicable and Non Communicable Diseases

Infectious diseases are the most prevailing diseases in the community. Tuberculosis has been detected in large numbers of patients whose sputum are positive for acid fast bacilli. Diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and skin diseases are the common problems. Non communicable disease are less as mostly young people fled. But cases like hypertension and diabetes are reported in the elderly age group.

Reproductive Health

As per the statistics of different NGOs, the average number of children per family is 5. The contraceptive is less among them. So, there are huge number of pregnant ladies in the Rohingya communities. The NGOs are providing antenatal care services and offering normal vaginal delivery services by midwives and birth attendants.

The Rohingya community are mostly unaware of the advantages of the family planning services. The highest reported number of children for a single mother was 21. Most of them reject family planning methods when offered. The lack of education and social stigma amounts to the higher reproduction rate.

Immunization and Nutrition

As they have denied for decades from basic human rights. They have no vaccine coverage. WHO, Government of Bangladesh and allied organizations working to vaccinate the children.

A large portion of the children under 5 are malnourished. Many of them are suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition.

Epidemic Breakout

Any epidemic can bring a massive disaster to the community and whole Bangladesh. As they are huge community so any disease will take less time to spread. This may also endanger the lives of healthcare givers working in the field. There has an outbreak of Diphtheria and Measles in the camps where there has been reported cases of mortality.

Major Organizations working in the field

Médecins Sans Frontières MSF has a hospital with several departments. There have the highest number of health posts where they have indoor facilities in most. Doctors and other health workers work for 24/7 in the posts.

International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) has set up a field hospital with two operating theatres, good investigation facilities. They also operate in remote camps and provide health care. Also multiple international red crescents and crosses are working to provide the healthcare to the affected community.

About the author

Dr. Imtiaz Hafiz is working as Medical Officer of Primary Health Center at Relief International. He is also serving as a Clinic in-Charge OPD (Out Patient Department) in the PHC funded by UNICEF at WW Zone, Rohingya Camp. He has finished his graduation and internship in the year 2017 and started to serve the displaced nationals. He has been working for more than 4 months in the camps and counting. During his med student life, he was involved with IFMSA, attended APRM 2014 Bangladesh and MM2015 Turkey. He has served as a local officer on medical education, national officer on medical education and secretary general in the national organization. He has also worked in different IFMSA groups and was a TMET trainer in his term.

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