Originally posted in Citizen’s Platform on 14 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is rampaging over countries across the globe for nearly six months now, and Bangladesh is also facing its share of severe impact both in terms of loss of lives and slowdown of economy. The country went into a state of closure from the end of March 2020, which was termed by the government as ‘general holidays’; and after a few rounds of extension, the government has announced the relaxation of the general holidays from 30 May 2020. However, an apprehension is quite visible among many as to whether the country and its citizens are being exposed to a more ominous health risk situation at this stage, as the number of infection detection is on the rise.

In this backdrop, Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh organised a virtual dialogue on “Post-‘General Holidays’ Health Risks” on 1 June 2020, to hear from public health experts and other stakeholders about their assessment on the impending situation and outline some policy recommendations to mitigate the possible health risks in this regard. This Briefing Note has been prepared based on the outcome of the dialogue.

The virtual dialogue was participated by around 85 professionals, including Member of Parliament, government’s technical advisers for the COVID-19 crisis, medical practitioners, public health experts, development activists, international development partners, business leaders, researchers, academics, youth representatives and journalists from across the country. Participants from around 60 Partner Organisations of the Citizen’s Platform attended the event and shared their experiences of dealing the situation at the community level; 11 out of these are based outside Dhaka.

The event was live streamed on Platform’s website and social media for wider audience engagement, where it was viewed by more than 6,000 people. The comment box received around 40 views which reflected the concerns and suggestions of the viewers on various aspects of tackling the COVID-19 challenges.

This document has been prepared with the aim to provide some specific actionable policy recommendations to the concerned authorities based on the issues and challenges identified through the discussion at the Platform dialogue. It is hoped that the findings from this briefing note will be useful for formulating an effective strategy towards better coordination and management of the COVID-19 challenges in the country, which would assure the citizens on overcoming the crisis sustainably.