Association of Medical Doctors of ASIA, founded in 1984, Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 1995








Activity Report #8: Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Publication date:2018-06-11
May 2018 Report
AMDA's continued medical support for the Rohingya community
It has been roughly half a year since AMDA started its medical support at the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh in October 2017. Located in Camp 1W in the Kutupalong Expansion Site, with the exception of Fridays (a Holy day in Islam), AMDA's clinic continues to see an average of 120 patients over a five-hour period every day. The clinic's medical team consisting of nine members (two doctors, a midwife, an operations coordinator, four medical assistants and a Rohingya assistant) provides free medical treatment and medicine to those who need it. Currently, the majority of patients are treated for ailments such as diarrhea, coughs, fever and skin disease. However, due to a lack of medical machinery and technology available, more complicated cases which require medical tests are referred to a larger, local medical facility set up by UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency). 

In February, AMDA collaborated with UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) to send two Palestinian doctors, who themselves grew up in refugee camps when they were younger, to help the Rohingya community at the AMDA clinic. This collaboration is a wonderful example of international humanitarian solidarity, and symbolizes the essence of AMDA's existence - the cycle of mutual assistance ("Open Sogo-fujo").

Although it is obvious that living conditions are far from ideal, having a secure and safe place available to receive general medical treatment seems to have instilled a sense of security for the local community.


The current situation in the camp

According to UNHCR reports, the total number of registered Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh stands at almost 883,000 (as of 15th May 2018), the vast majority of whom arrived since August 2017. The rate of the arrival of new refugees has dropped significantly compared with the massive influx in September 2017, so authorities have been able to focus more on infrastructural developments.

According to a report by Mrs. Hashimoto, a coordinator dispatched from AMDA Headquarters (Okayama, Japan) to Bangladesh in May, there were many positive changes that were very easily noticeable in comparison to her last visit in November 2017.

Firstly, sanitation within the camp seems to have improved. Previously, the area was scattered with unsanitary emergency lavatories which were out in the open, whereas now there are much more suitably built lavatory facilities. Although some lavatories are full - closed due to the scale of use - the overall condition seems to be much more hygienic and dignifying than before. In addition, there are now dedicated areas for the disposal of general waste and places where refugees can bathe, which should both contribute to sanitation levels within the camp. Again, this environment is certainly not up to suitable living standards, but conditions seem to be improving.

Secondly, organization within the camp seems to have come a long way. Previously, as many as 5,000 people were arriving every single day and it was very difficult to register every individual, much less know where each individual was sheltered. Presently, however, rather detailed maps have been developed for individual areas, showing which family is sheltered where, and other information such as where latrines, bathing areas, water wells, child-friendly spaces, mosques, etc. are located.
The organization of relief activities within the camp has also improved. Compared with before, most likely due to the lessened influx of new refugees, authorities have been able to properly monitor and organize the humanitarian support activities that are taking place within the camp. It has become much clearer as to which organization is doing what. Each humanitarian group, including AMDA, has its own role to fulfill.

Despite their being overall developments in various areas, there are of course many things that remain an issue. One significant issue that came to Mrs. Hashimoto's particular attention was the sheer number of pregnant women in the camp needing proper prenatal care and safe, hygienic facilities for delivering their newborns. At present, it seems women sometimes have to give birth in their dark, unsanitary shelters without the assistance of medical professionals.

Preparations for the future

One of the greatest concerns of the Rohingya camps for the near future is the impending monsoon season. According to national statistics, 72% of the yearly rainfall falls within the months of June to September, with an average of 700mm of precipitation per month. It is expected that these deluges will trigger landslides and floods, from which tens of thousands of those within the camp are in immediate danger due to their current shelter locations.

The AMDA clinic is no exception. In its current state, it is unlikely that the AMDA clinic will be able to endure such heavy rainfall. Therefore, AMDA hopes to reinforce the clinic with stronger and more stable materials as soon as possible so that it is able to continue providing its services for the remainder of our current support program.

In addition, particularly due to privacy concerns, AMDA also plans to expand the overall size of the clinic. As there is currently not enough room to give patients privacy during treatment, more space is required in order to set up private examination spaces. Lastly, AMDA also plans to improve the waiting area to more comfortably accommodate those awaiting treatment.

Currently, AMDA plans to continue running the clinic for another six months, and an expansion of the services it provides is also underway. Due to the lack of pre-natal care observed within the camp, the AMDA clinic would like to more actively care for expectant mothers by providing them with physical health check-ups and lifestyle consultation. Through this, AMDA hopes, as well as making sure they are healthy, that expectant mothers will be able to feel more reassured about their babies' health.

In addition, AMDA is considering conducting awareness activities for Down syndrome within the camp. As knowledge of this condition is extremely limited, it seems that many parents of Down syndrome children lack the proper understanding, questioning why their child came out like this and sometimes even trying to hide them away from society. Therefore, AMDA would like to spread the knowledge throughout the Rohingya community that children born with Down syndrome have the same inherent potential as all children do.

Once fears of flooding and landslides are over and the AMDA clinic is in a suitable condition to best help those who need it, we will continue to do what we can to meet the needs of the displaced Rohingya people. AMDA hopes that they can one day return to their previous livelihoods and live healthily and in peace.

    •  GPSP Multi-National Medical Mission (Peace Building)
    •  Bangladesh
    •  Myanmar
    •  2018
    •  for the Rohingya Refugees