On March 8, 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Bangladesh. Increasing testing to meet the enormous demand quickly became the paramount national health priority.
In Dhaka, where there was much public fear about the virus, people were queuing but still not getting tested for various reasons. As the pandemic set in, testing was limited to several public hospitals where demand quickly outstripped supply. Whereas wealthy citizens had access to private testing options, there was a clear need to provide accessible and affordable testing to underprivileged communities in Dhaka, where low-income residents lack regular access to healthcare and live in densely populated neighborhoods. To that end, a public-private partnership was formed to meet the need of the moment. In this partnership, necessity was the mother of invention.
An innovative triage and testing booth—the first of its kind—emerged from the collaboration between social enterprise Digital Healthcare Solutions (DH), private foundation the Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (ideSHi Foundation), and Mugda Medical College & Hospital, a public hospital in Dhaka. Responsive to the health situation, UKAID provided essential seed money for the infrastructure and proof of concept.
From June 2020, the booth offered free COVID19 tests and medical attention to Dhaka residents. These partners demonstrated remarkably effective co-operation during an urgent time. The Kampala Principles capture the ingredients of such co-operation so others may also build impactful partnerships with the private sector for sustainable development
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