Bangladeshi frontline staff have worked meticulously around the clock since the outbreak in March and risked their own lives, helping people stay home and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease. While healthcare workers around the world have become victim to the virus on the frontline, experts and statistics say the pandemic appears to be deadly in terms of mortality rates for Bangladesh. Families have fallen and continue to fall in despair with the loss of these heroes of the pandemic, often leaving them in irreversible financial despondency. To bring light of hope in these grieving homes, SAJIDA Foundation and MetLife Foundation have partnered up to provide financial assistance to families of deceased frontline healthcare workers (FLHW).
With support from MetLife Foundation, a detailed process was ensured, by SAJIDA Foundation, to reach family members of the beneficiaries. The beneficiary listings were assigned with the help of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), COVID-19 designated hospitals, private hospitals, and healthcare professional networks, including other personal contacts. Stakeholders engaged included:
Fig: Process of the Deceased Frontline Healthcare Payout Scheme
At the end of the project, SAJIDA Foundation and MetLife Foundation disbursed a payout BDT 2 lacs(each) to 33 families of FLHW who passed away. Among which, Mrs. Shamima Akter, 36 years old, lost her husband in June ’20 to COVID-19. Dr. Shakhawat Hossain, Shamima’s husband, had been a devoted frontline worker to patients under the grasp of this unfortunate adversity. This tragic demise brought incessant sufferings to his family. His 3 children had lost their anchor before the age of 16. One of the children is diagnosed with autism – an expensive disorder to attend to. When Shamima received the payout, she was ecstatic. She shared how the amount would help her attend to the expenses of the children’s education and treatment which had been an added stress during these already tough times.
“Frontline healthcare workers have always played a role of utmost importance during times as such. It is our responsibility, as an organization and individuals, to protect those working frontline. Payout schemes make them feel a certain relief to put themselves out there to make pacify the crisis that they are essential in.”
– Monerul Islam Khan, Director of Support Services, SAJIDA Foundation.
The financial worries faced by these families was devastating. Some of these households had only one earning member who lost their battle with COVID-19. At the same time, many families declined the payout to have them be reallocated to beneficiaries in from vulnerable households and in most need. These payouts helped over 75 individuals, mostly belonging to low-income families, to get back on their feet by absorbing an economic shock.
With the arrival of the vaccine drawing near, we may think that the risk of spreading COVID-19 will minimize. But the distribution and allocation may take some time for it to reach us all. Meanwhile, as individuals and organizations, we need to step up to protect our greatest asset: our frontline healthcare workers. Strategizing around creating incentive mechanism for them to carry on their duties without having to hold fear is of utmost priority. Strictly maintained safety & hygiene protocols, insurance schemes, abundant supply of PPEs, mental health counselling, phone call follow-ups and designing solutions for issues learned can help give back to these epics of our biggest test in the last decade. Together with partners like MetLife Insurance and Give2Asia, SAJIDA Foundation was able to carry out a successful payout and reduce the risk for frontline healthcare workers.