On National Freedom Fighters Day celebrated on December 1, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with Cox’s Bazar District Administration, inaugurated a new health clinic for veteran freedom fighters in Cox’s Bazar, with support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UNCERF).
In 1971, Bangladesh gained its independence from Pakistan following a Liberation War with an estimated three million casualties. Some of the Freedom Fighters that are still alive today are often suffering from age-related diseases and complications and are thus in need of regular health checkups and access to appropriate health care.
The District Administration estimates there are currently 365 Freedom Fighters in Cox’s Bazar – most over 65 years old. In Cox’s Bazar, IOM’s Health teams provide emergency and primary health care services to both host community members and Rohingya refugees in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas.
As a longstanding partner of the Ministry of Health in Bangladesh, IOM considers it imperative to support the national health system in reaching vulnerable groups.
This new health facility is located on the ground floor of the Freedom Fighter Office at Motel Road in Cox’s Bazar. The Muktijoddha Sangsad (or Freedom Fighters Association) has provided one of its office spaces for this clinic, while IOM’s Health and Transition and Recovery Division units were responsible for renovating the room to convert it into a health facility. “This clinic will enable veteran freedom fighters to receive medical assistance immediately,” said Deputy Commissioner, Md. Kamal Hossain during the inauguration of the health facility this Monday.
“IOM has been supporting the District Administration in Cox’s Bazar with multiple initiatives, but this one, in particular, is commendable as it addresses the most pressing needs of our national heroes.”
The services available at the newly-launched clinic include health checkups, curative medical consultations for general ailments, essential medicine free of cost, medical tests at Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital (with support from IOM’s health referral team), and lifestyle and health education services.
The outpatient consultation services dedicated to veteran Freedom Fighters and their families will be available two days a week (Saturdays and Mondays) and may increase depending on needs.
The District Administration will identify and verify eligible recipients who will then be enlisted by IOM.
Following data privacy and confidentiality guidelines, eligible beneficiaries will be registered in a centralized database managed by IOM’s health teams and will be issued a unique ID with which they will be able to access the different health services available.
“IOM is pleased to extend its support to the veteran freedom fighters in Cox’s Bazar by inaugurating this new clinic today,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Cox’s Bazar. “It is vital to ensure the elderly receive the medical services and medical access they need to age with dignity.”