April 7th 2020
Dear Friends of icddr,b,
As COVID-19 advances upon Bangladesh, many of you have reached out to me to understand how the pandemic may affect our hospitals, what we will be doing to respond to the situation, and how you can help.
As the largest diarrhoeal disease treatment facility in the world, we are providing treatment free-of-charge to over 200,000 patients annually. Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, our life-saving services prevented an estimated 80,000 deaths per year, of which 60% were children. As the epidemic evolves, we anticipate an increased risk of morbidity and mortality amongst our vulnerable populations, not only due to COVID, but also due to the ”usual” non-COVID causes of morbidity and mortality, such as non-COVID respiratory infections and diarrhea, since the understandable diversion of attention and resources to COVID-19 may leave other diseases less well attended to. It is noteworthy that the advancing epidemic will coincide with the approaching monsoon season, following which we normally see 1,000 patients admitted per day. This will create an unprecedented strain on our hospitals.
Every year, it costs USD 5 million to run our hospitals under normal conditions, with funds largely derived from our own resources. The impact of COVID-19 is such that our income from donors and other sources is declining or being reprogrammed towards our activities to support the government’s efforts to respond to COVID-19. Thus at this time, we are struggling to sustain free life-saving services for our patients.
In order to prepare for the anticipated increased influx of vulnerable patients, we urgently need to:
You can help our hospitals during the evolving epidemic crisis. At a time when the entire world is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and international resources are channeled to global efforts to fight this pandemic, we must turn to our local community for support. We anticipate that our current annual hospital budget will increase substantially. Your support will help us to sustain our life-saving services to our vulnerable patient population.
Please tell your friends, your business contacts, your relatives. Direct them to our website. No gift is too small, no gift is too large. While we brace for the impact of COVID-19, I would like to thank you for your support. It is our honour to serve the people of Bangladesh during this unparalleled time of need. Together, we will weather the storm.
Wishing you all good health,
John Clemens, MD
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