Cox's Bazar Rohinyga Camps Epidemiological Summary

The Epidemiological summary provides an overview of the data collected across the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. The reports are updated every Tuesday. Reports can be acessed in the sitreps section of this website.

Backed by strong public health operational support, Bangladesh has effectively limited the impact of COVID-19 in Cox's Bazar, where around 850,000 Rohingya refugees reside. WHO Bangladesh/Tatiana Almeida.

WHO supports the integration of public health services into emergency responses through the Cox's Bazar Health Emergency Operations Center. Additionally, adhering to conventional format and using precise subject-specific vocabulary while maintaining grammatical correctness are crucial. Cox’s Bazar Health Emergency Operations Centre.

Moving well into its fourth year, the Rohingya refugee emergency response in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, has been supported by the Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC/ Control Room) since its onset in 2017. This operational support has played a crucial role in ensuring the effective management of public health during the entire humanitarian crisis.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit globally, the HEOC/ Control Room at the Civil Surgeon Office (CSO) was promptly activated for Emergency Level 2. This activation allowed the HEOC/ Control Room to serve as a coordination platform and information hub for ongoing COVID-19 surveillance and subsequent awareness in the district. Additionally, it provided guidance to different partners and stakeholders as they worked towards addressing the emergent needs of the district's vulnerable populations, including Rohingya refugees and nearby host communities.

Established three years ago with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Health Emergency Operations Center has proven to be instrumental in enhancing coordinated emergency mechanisms as public health threats emerge in and around the world's largest refugee camp. Its role in the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of such centers in effectively responding to and managing public health emergencies.

The establishment of a Control Room in every district across Bangladesh has been mandated by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). However, in Cox's Bazar, this requirement was only initiated after the significant influx of Rohingya refugees in August 2017. Over the course of nearly four years, it has become evident that the timely implementation of a Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) or Control Room has played a crucial role in effectively managing public health emergencies in the complex setting of Cox's Bazar.

“So far, Cox’s Bazar has successfully limited the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the district as well as in the Rohingya camps very much due to this public health emergency management approach. The HEOC/Control Room acts as a trusted and reliable source for routine situational information throughout emergencies to better address vulnerable populations’ needs by continuously providing routine situational information”, says Cox’s Bazar Civil Surgeon, Dr Md Mahbubur Rahman.

“Public health emergencies may lead to increased incidence of illness, injury and even death, and require improved capacity to address morbidity, mortality as well as the interruption of essential health services. Since we established the HEOC/Control Room, three years back, we have been conducting risk analysis, preparing for and responding to health outbreaks and enabling the quick return to normal conditions”, tells WHO Technical Officer, Dr Umme Asma Absari, who is working closely with the Civil Surgeon at the Control Room.

Cox's Bazar Civil Surgeon, Dr. Md Mahbubur Rahman, and the team from the Health Emergency Operations Center/Control Room, which includes Dr. Rishad Choudhury Robin, a Public Health Officer from MoHFW Coordination Cell; Dr. Umme Asma Absari, a WHO Technical Support Officer; and Dr. Shownam Barua, ISCG/ Syed Tafhim.

UNICEF MIS Consultant, Usaimong Marma; WHO Technical Support Officer, Dr Umme Asma Absari; and JICA District Officer, Md Mahidul Islam, are some of the staff ensuring the Control Room’s daily activities. WHO Bangladesh/Tatiana Almeida.

Over the past years, the Health Emergency Operations Center/Control Room has been involved in managing the Rohingya refugee crisis and health outbreaks. The center has been responsible for providing updates on public health and disease surveillance through various channels such as social media, mass media, and rumor tracking platforms. Additionally, the center has also focused on capacity building for natural disasters by conducting exercises and drills to enhance the skills and capabilities of partners and first line responders.

In the context of the current COVID-19 situation, the Civil Surgeon Office of Cox's Bazar district regularly issues updates through its official Facebook page. The World Health Organization (WHO) Epidemiology team has supported the creation of a COVID-19 Dashboard, which serves as a platform for disseminating key public health information. This dashboard can be accessed on the WHO website and provides information on COVID-19 positive cases, contact tracing, capacities of different areas, and bed occupancy rates at isolation and treatment centers for both host communities and Rohingya refugee camps.

The ultimate goal of an effective Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC) information system is to improve the availability, accessibility, quality, timeliness, and usefulness of emergency operations information for public health action.

WHO Head of Sub-Office, Dr Kai von Harbou, with WHO Epidemiology Team Lead, Dr Muhammad Khan, and WHO National Consultant Dr Tasnova Sadneen, during a COVID-19 outbreak update in Cox’s Bazar. WHO Bangladesh/Tatiana Almeida.

“The World Health Organization has been supporting the establishment and sustaining of the Health Emergency Operations Center/Control Room in Cox’s Bazar since 2017 through technical support, provision of equipment and capacity building of human resources and we plan to continue supporting the Government of Bangladesh for as long as necessary. Despite its limited structural human resources, the Control Room has been enabling timely and effective coordination of life saving health response activities throughout the entire refugee crisis making our collaboration a very meaningful one”, notes WHO Head of Sub-Office, Dr Kai von Harbou

The International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) mandate that States Parties build, enhance, and maintain their ability to react promptly and efficiently to public health hazards and public health crises. To satisfy these criteria, it is essential to establish a functional Public Health Emergency Operations Center to oversee emergencies, incidents, or events that jeopardize the health of communities.