BMC Health Serv Res 23 (1) 656 [2023-06-20; online 2023-06-20]
Response to COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh was led by the Government of Bangladesh aided by Non-Government Organisations (NGO) among others. The aim of the study was to explore the activities of such an NGO to understand the philosophy, aspiration and strategy to plan and implement an effective response to COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. A case study of a Bangladeshi NGO called SAJIDA Foundation (SF) is presented. From September to November 2021, using document review, field observation and in-depth interviews, four aspects of their COVID-19 pandemic related activities was explored - a) why and how SF initiated their COVID response; b) what adaptations were made to their usual programmes; c) how SF's response to COVID-19 were designed and what were the anticipated challenges including overcoming measures; and d) perception of the staff about SF's activities related to COVID-19. Fifteen in-depth interviews were conducted with three groups of SF staff: frontliners, managers and leaders. The impact of COVID-19 has been beyond health emergencies and posed multidimensional challenges. SF took a two-pronged approach - aid the government to respond to the emergency and adopt an all-inclusive plan to address diverse challenges related to overall well-being of the population. The underlying strategy of their response has been to: define the challenge of COVID-19 and identify required expertise and resources, ensure people's health and social wellbeing, adjust existing organisational processes, ensure functional partnership with other organisations for effective resource and task sharing, and safeguard health and wellbeing of the organisation's own employees. The findings suggest a '4C framework' including four components as the basis of a comprehensive response to emergencies by NGOs: 1. Capability assessment to identify who are in need and what is needed; 2. Collaboration with stakeholders to pool resources and expertise; 3. Compassionate leadership to ensure health and social safety of the employees which ensures their dedication in managing the emergency; and 4. Communication for quick and effective decision making, decentralisation, monitoring and coordination. It is expected that this '4C framework' can help NGOs to embark on a comprehensive response to manage emergencies in resource constrained low- and middle-income countries.