Lack of awareness, which leads to failures in abiding by health and hygiene rules is seen as one of the major challenges in fighting COVID-19 in Bangladesh. The country faces several issues in meeting the challenge of reaching all of its people with awareness guidelines and health measures. These include lack of accessibility to digital media, difficulties in uniting all concerned bodies under the same umbrella, lack of coordination among concerned public bodies, etc.
Towards a Solution
To tackle these challenges and facilitate the fight against the COVID-19 crisis, Aspire to Innovate (a2i) has set up a risk communication pillar in Bangladesh, with government, private and NGO partners working together to create a pool of shared awareness content which can be accessed by all through a national online platform, corona.gov.bd. The platform allows citizens to get up-to-date information on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh and access the official prevention guidelines issued by the Government.
The result of a collaboration with 40+ governmental and non-governmental organizations, the 360-degree Awareness Program has created a series of coronavirus awareness content that is being promoted through different mediums. All communications materials and messaging created with partners are shared on the website and are accessible to all.
This program has been instrumental in reaching vulnerable groups through diverse channels. The website looks to make itself more accessible to not just all but also for differently-abled individuals, as well as making the target audience inclusive in all aspects. The website also offers online services where people are directed towards the 333 hotline, through which they are able to directly speak to doctors via the Doctor's Pool.
Additionally, the program has been creating continuous content/messages of all kinds and disseminating them through different media channels – television and radio, billboards, social media, community leaders, Imams, UDC, etc. The program is also creating content for all the tireless volunteers who have signed up for the fight against COVID-19. It is developing not only communication content for them but also exploring ways to recognize them for their irreplaceable assistance during this critical situation.
So far, a2i has developed more than 40 partnerships, through which about 295 pieces of content have been created, reaching nearly 120 million people. This was made possible by the tireless contribution of each and every member of the many teams that are working in partnership with each other round the clock.
This solution involves experts, health workers, policy makers, government agencies and people from many different backgrounds. The initiative can be sustained in the long term, and serve as a tool for raising awareness and helping people make informed decisions when facing future emergencies. Through similar coordination, the solution can easily be replicated in any country that wishes to ensure maximum and efficient reach for their public awareness campaigns in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and other similar emergencies.