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Bangladesh Rapid Assistive Technology Assessment (rATA), May 2021 – Bangladesh

INTRODUCTION

In total, more than 870,000 Rohingya refugees are currently living in 34 camps officially designated by the Bangladesh government in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas in the district of Cox’s Bazar. Access to aid problems are widespread among the Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh. Of those with physical or cognitive difficulties identified in the Household Survey on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Rohingya refugee camps in 2019, only 34% reportedly had access to support services such as aids or rehabilitation. In addition, COVID-19 and the resulting social restrictions can disproportionately affect people with disabilities, from the risk of being excluded from awareness messages to limited access to aids after loss of income. Such widespread measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 have been and remain in place in Bangladesh since March 2020, and it remains unclear what impact this has had on people with disabilities.

Against this background, REACH, in cooperation with CBM Global and with financial support from the World Health Organization (WHO), carried out the rATA survey among the Rohingya population living in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The aim was to assess the extent and drivers of assistive technology (AT) needs within the Rohingya population living in refugee camps in order to add the global understanding of AT needs in a humanitarian setting for the Global Report of Assistive Technology (GReAT) convey. as well as improving support for this population group.

Main results

  • A total of 11% of people reportedly use assistive devices, with men (12%) using them slightly more often compared to women (9%). Aid use appears to increase with age, with 36% of the elderly reportedly using aids, and increased use has also been reported among those with functional visual impairment.

  • The most commonly used aids were reportedly glasses, armpit crutches and shower / bath / toilet chairs. Aid products were reported to have been obtained predominantly from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with sources made in-house and provided by friends or family also being frequently reported.

  • A total of 1% of people have reportedly met their needs related to aids, with 51% of people having unmet needs while the remaining 48% have no need for aids.

  • The demand for medical devices appears to increase with age, with 85% of the elderly reportedly having an unmet need for medical devices. Of those identified as having functional impairment in various areas, 89-98% reportedly have unmet needs.

  • The most frequently reported new or replacement products correspond to the most frequently used products (glasses, armpit crutches and chairs for shower / bath / toilet), with a notable demand for pressure relief mattresses and pillows as well as hearing aids.

  • The main barriers to access to resources reportedly were lack of support, 19 the unavailability of products and the inability to afford products. Additional information on access to tools and access to financial assistance were the most frequently reported ways to improve access to tools.

  • Since the social control measures for COVID-19 began in March 2020, 61% of device users reported that they had no access to new or replacement products during that period.