Pointing out anomalies in relief distribution last year, Healthy Bangladesh, a civic platform of Bangladeshi professionals, has called upon the government to take lessons from the incident to avert recurrences this year.
They observed that new restrictions, which will be in effect from tomorrow, will have adverse economic impacts, especially on the low-income population and informal economy.
Saying that the Expert Advisory Committee for Covid-19 has not been used effectively, they opined that the practice has to be reversed.
Healthy Bangladesh yesterday organised the press briefing on "Combating Covid-19 Second Wave: Immediate Action Plan Required" virtually.
Convener of Healthy Bangladesh Hossain Zillur Rahman addressed the briefing.
While presenting a paper on "Covid-19 second wave pushes Bangladesh into dual crises of health and economy; 3 Solution Pathways: Community Engagement, Smart Lockdown & Accountability", Zillur said the messaging in Bangladesh has not been properly instructional and inclusive, with many self-contradictory rules.
"A critical success factor in pandemic response is the clarity and credibility of the message, whether to motivate public towards greater adherence to safety protocols, ensure effective involvement of public health experts in policymaking and involve grassroots actors in community awareness," he said.
Zillur, executive chairperson of Power and Participation Research Centre, said it is evident from the experiences of last year and last week that if the restrictions are not well-crafted, realistic, and free of contradictions, it is not only ineffective but also increases public suffering.
Healthy Bangladesh suggested "smart lockdown", where degree and nature of restriction on movement will be enforced according to the infection rate of a particular area.
In order to curb transmission, Zillur said it is of paramount importance to halt inter-district public transportation services for a limited period, impose strong time restrictions on marketplaces, and ban recreational public gatherings.
He stressed on work from home practices for both public and private offices, and operating factories with residential workers.
"In all cases, strict enforcement of health protocols needs to be ensured," he said.
Pointing out that movement restriction will take its toll on the poor, Zillur said last year, initiatives were taken to provide emergency assistance to the poor, but there were leakages in distribution.
"It is important to keep that experience in mind while taking new initiatives. Besides, disbursement of existing safety-net support cannot be held up and needs to be expedited," he added.
Raising the question of accountability, he said the health ministry needs to overcome the crisis of credibility and trust for combating the second wave effectively.
Healthy Bangladesh proposed establishing a high-powered national public-private monitoring body to monitor the outcomes of policy measures on health and economy.
The body will give suggestion on remedial measures.
Healthy Bangladesh called for urgent expansion of Covid-19 hospital services and gave emphasis on civic responsibility.
"It is impossible to combat Covid-19 without social awareness and responsible behaviour of every citizen," he said.