Healthcare for the Rohingya people: traumatised by violence, trapped in squalorBMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k5360 (Published 03 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:k5360
- Sophie Arie, freelance journalist, London, UK
Mohammed Saleh is a 17 year old Rohingya boy who used to live in Buthidaung, a town in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, until his family was forced to flee ethnic violence and take refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh in September 2017.1
Some 16 months later, he is living with his parents and four siblings in a hut made of plastic sheets and bamboo posts among a crowded warren of shacks known as Camp 1E. It is one of the largest camps in Cox’s Bazar, the region of Bangladesh that now hosts, indefinitely, more than 700 000 refugee Rohingya men, women, and children who have left Myanmar.
Saleh is one of 40 young Rohingya who volunteer on a programme launched this autumn by the humanitarian charity Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde) to teach camp residents how to keep clean and avoid getting sick.
Sewage filled alleys
With the support of seven “community mobilisers”—Rohingya people with experience as health educators in their home country who have been given intensive training by Doctors of the World—Saleh goes round the sewage filled alleys of the camp, talking to the refugees about the risk of disease from poor sanitation, telling them how to stay healthy, and referring anyone in need of healthcare to the nearest clinic.
As part of the global Médecins du Monde network, Doctors of the World delivers more than 350 projects like this one in more than 80 countries through 3000 volunteers. It works worldwide to empower the most vulnerable, and often forgotten, people to access healthcare, and …