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The Covid-19 Pandemic hits the change in people’s behavior and communication

Covid-19 has bought lots of changes in our day to day life as well as in society. It also has noticeable impact on behaviors and communication. Effective interventions are required to increase adherence to behaviors that youth in communities can enact to protect themselves and others. The government of Bangladesh disseminates health safety guidelines on reopening. CRI’s youth platform Young Bangla tries to address the inclusive communication methods & tools available to accept the changes and also to mark the youth-led outreach and scope of a participatory partnership approach to live with pathogen with changed attitudes and practices.

On June 21(Sunday), 2020 at 9 pm. Young Bangla organized hosted its 6th online Let’s Talk on ‘Living with Pathogen: Behavior & Communication’. The esteemed panelists of the Let’s Talk event were Professor Dr. Shahnila Ferdausi, Director, Disease Control Department, Directorate General of Health Services, Bangladesh, Professor Dr. Mamun Al Mahtab, Chairman, Department of Hepatology, BSMMU, Rajib Nandy, Assistant Professor, University of Chittagong, Umme Kawser, Assistant Professor, University of Dhaka, Md. Abdul Quayyum, Head of Communication, UNDP Bangladesh, Ashik Rahman, CEO, RTV, Jhumona Mollik, Founder, Pakhi Foundation, and Joy Bangla Youth Award winner.

The discussion highlighted different aspects of life during the Corona outbreak. The discussion also highlighted some inevitable corona induced changes in peoples’ behavior, especially among the youth. How the government is dealing with the pandemic, what are the initiatives taken so far to contain the outbreak, and how Bangladeshi youth can engage in disseminating the technical guidelines are some intriguing questions raised and discussed in the Let’s Talk. Moreover, how people should communicate to adapt to the changing scenario also discussed.

The moderator of the event Nahim Razzaq, MP, and the Convener, Young Bangla inaugurated the talk with a precise brief of the discussion. The discussion began with a welcome note of Israt Farzana, Assistant Coordinator at Young Bangla Secretariat that how the Young Bangla member organizations responded to the COVID-19 crisis, what are their struggles responding to their community and how they have overcome the shortcoming.

The panel discussion began with the opening remark of Dr. Shahnila Ferdausi, Director, Disease Control Department, Directorate General of Health Services, Bangladesh, shared her department’s endeavor in developing the technical guidelines. She also stressed on the potential scope of youth engagement in dissemination and communication of the guidelines. She shared the background and rationale behind the Technical Guidelines for The Prevention and Control of Social and Institutional Infections of Covid-19.

“There is no alternative to increasing the reach and visibility of the Technical Guidelines to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.”

This guideline depicts what should a person do while he is in 20 different spaces like – residential houses, office spaces, hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, saloons, private vehicles, and also vehicles used for carrying people returning from abroad. This guideline also focuses on social organizations including communities, schools and colleges, government offices, construction, industry, jail, rehabilitation centers, and more. In the final chapter, this guideline includes directives for specific demographics such as elder citizens, pregnant women, students, patients and their relatives, company staff members, courier services, and security guards. This guideline includes the measures institutions and organizations have to follow to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus. It has made it clear that every person who is going outdoors has to use face masks, personal hygiene and strictly follow social distancing. Companies have to establish health monitoring systems to ensure employees are taking protective measures. Employees should be provided with face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers (if the public movement is high in the place concerned). This guideline is available on the DGHS website. Apart from this guideline, DGHS, in association with WHO, has developed 5 guidelines and 24 directives that are related to the COVID19 pandemic. International development partners have come forward to disseminate these guidelines and directives among the mass people. This kind of dialogue platform could be a dissemination medium of the guidelines and directives developed by DGHS.

Professor Dr. Mamun Al Mahtab, Chairman, Department of Hepatology, BSMMU has made very candid remarks on how the government has taken prompt actions to minimize the infection rate and also emphasized mass awareness. He emphasizes on proper coordination of drug administration and market demand of the particular medicine during the pandemic. He thinks People are getting confused and end in the unnecessary stocking of medicine due to misinformation.

“Tackling COVID-19 pandemic is like driving a vehicle. Everyone has to drive well.”

He marked the people’s ignorance as we unnecessary panic to bury the bodies of a COVID patient and not to fear to get in contact with a positive patient during social gatherings. This is happening due to communication lacking. Professor Mahtab thinks must utilize mass people’s communication mediums like –folk art, vernacular architecture, folk music, folk tales, personal experience narratives, and verbal arts, etc. He places a visionary line at the that, this disease is turning into the pandemic to endemic. In the future, it will be like a normal disease like other regular diseases. We have to inure to this disease by maintaining social distance and personal hygiene.

Rajib Nandy, Assistant Professor, University of Chittagong discussed what is ‘new normal’, a very recent widely used term. He reaffirms that the human being has to change their communication and behavior pattern to inure to the COVID19. He quoted Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, there are essentially three ways out of this pandemic –
• vaccination
• enough people develop immunity through infection
• or permanently change our behavior/society

“There will be a behavioral change and paradigm shift in terms of mass communication in the post-COVID-19 world.”

He stressed on to be positive to be more communicative to adopt this new normal situation. We have changed our behavior to live and perform in a new normal situation. Finally, a new normal is a new theory and a new order, we have to adjust with it on time.

Umme Kawser, Assistant Professor, University of Dhaka emphasized the importance of mental health during the pandemic and shared some tips and tricks to stay positive.

“Unless everyone is safe, no one is safe.”

She also pinpointed that if anyone is going through a mental health problem, this considered a stigma. At first, it is necessary to recognize the essence of being mentally healthy. There was a stigma regarding the COVID-19 patients which was gradually recovered. The different official guidelines say to the main physical distance. But it is important to recognize the essence of psychological connectivity with friends and relatives.

Md. Abdul Quayyum, Head of Communication, UNDP Bangladesh made a very thoughtful remark on the challenges ahead in terms of communicating problems with people and discussed some comprehensive communication mechanisms.

“Currently we are dealing with twin perils, pandemic and infodemic. We need to contain the infodemic as well. Containing COVID-19 will be difficult if we fail to deal with infodemic”

He put examples of many popular communication languages during the past crisis and also shared calls for cooperation between government and development partners to come forward with the different approaches, tools, communication, and awareness materials to overcome this riddle. He also insisted on both parties paying attention to reduce the communication gap between the youth and the international organization.

Ashik Rahman, CEO, RTV thinks, this is the best time to utilize electronic media to sensitize people. Mr. Rahman said media and social media have a crucial role to play in reaching more people with the right information. He also stressed on responsible dissemination of information.
Joy Bangla Youth Award winner Jhumona Mollik also shared her experience of building awareness and running a school for the special child during this pandemic. She shared the different challenges of remote communication with children with a special need.

The discussion addressed some of the questions from the online stream and provides spontaneous feedback from the distinguished panelists.

Live Telecast Link:

YouTube Link:

News Links:
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