Responding to Covid-19 in the developing world

ঢাকা ট্রিবিউন প্রকাশিত: ০৬ এপ্রিল ২০২০, ২০:০৪

We are still learning about the best strategies to combat it The mass social distancing strategy being used to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in the United States and Europe doesn’t easily translate to a developing country like Bangladesh, which lacks the capacity to impose restrictions or provide a social safety net for the unemployed.We talked with Yale SOM development economist Mushfiq Mobarak about how he is repurposing his research infrastructure in Bangladesh to gather information and test approaches to spreading public health messages. The work is being done in collaboration with hundreds of talented young Bangladeshis who are volunteering their time and expertise in different domains, and many partner organizations including a2i, BRAC, BIGD and Innovations for Poverty ActionIs the social-distancing strategy used in the United States an effective response to Covid-19 in a developing country like Bangladesh?There are several reasons why the types of strategies that we’re seeing in the US or China or South Korea or Singapore are unlikely to be the exact right response for rural areas of Bangladesh.One key difference is that we don’t have much testing going on, especially in rural areas. The testing that is available is limited to a few urban centres, so it’s difficult for us to get information on exactly where the disease is emerging and spreading in rural areas. Absent that information, it becomes very difficult for us to figure out how we allocate and direct resources. What are the hotspots? We need to make some indirect inferences on that, and that poses some data and statistical challenges. Second, imposing social distancing and enforcing the policy is very difficult when institutional capacity is limited around the country.
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