SANGJOG, a program for better SRHR for young people vulnerable to HIV in Bangladesh, is a partnership initiative
of Population Services and Training Centre (PSTC) and Population Council (PC) with the support of the Embassy
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a 2-year project being implemented since December 2016 and will be
continued till December 2018. The project is covering seven districts of Bangladesh namely Dhaka, Gazipur,
Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Jessore, Kushtia and Dinajpur.
The overall goal of the project is to increase the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) to vulnerable
young key people in Bangladesh through increasing better sexual practices and utilization of SRHR services
by young people aged 15 to 24 years. Among the target groups are transport workers, pavement dwellers/
street children, floating female sex workers, young people engaged in small trades and those who work as
labourers. SANGJOG aims to make a significant change to the integration of vital sexual and reproductive health
and rights (SRHR) interventions and is working on to generate important evidence to aid the broader SRHR/
HIV integration movement. During the year 2017, with the recommendation of government district authority
of Cox’s Bazar, SANGJOG has taken initiative to incorporate the SRHR needs of the Rohingya population in
Bangladesh considering their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
Reaching the Young People
SANGJOG reaches vulnerable young key populations (VYKPs) through Peer network. From the Key
Population networks (Sex Workers Network, Transport Workers Federation) and relevant organizational linkages 70 Peer Educators were selected (10 for each working area) representing each group and were trained to work with SANGJOG as frontline cadres, ‘Outreach Workers’. SANGJOG focuses on advocacy to address improving young Key
Population’s (KP’s) SRHR needs through mobilization. Further, the programme supplements SRHR services
to street children/pavement dwellers, transport workers, floating female sex workers and young
people engaged in small trade and those who work as labourers. The programme addresses the needs of
vulnerable young key populations (VYKPs) which are recommended in the updated National RH Strategy
and the Adolescent Health Strategy. Through its monitoring and evaluation activities, SANGJOG is also working
for generating evidence-based knowledge related to SRHR. During this reporting period, an emergency situation arose in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar due to sudden influx of Rohingya population from Myanmar. Considering the vulnerability of the Rohingya refugees for HIV and AIDS, SANGJOG organized two Primary Health Care centers that focused on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at Balukahli and Kutupalon of Ukhia in Cox’s Bazar.
• SANGJOG reached total 25296 number of adolescents and young people through its different activities
focusing on SRHR and HIV/AIDS.
• SANGJOG supported the health care needs of 13178 young people through referral services.
• 168 number of service providers were capacitated from the identified health services center on SRHR and
RTIs/STIs and HIV/AIDS as per national standard protocol.
• SANGJOG reached 553 number of stakeholders from different levels that include community leaders,
political leaders, and government stakeholders to create enabling environment.
• SANGJOG provided health care services focusing SRHR needs among 6870 number of Rohingya people
from Balukhali and Kutupalong health camps.
Stigma still remain for the People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA)
which is a barrier for getting treatment
Korimun’s family lives just near Sangjog project’s peer-educator Saiful’s house. One day Korimun’s sons
were present while Saiful was conducting HIV/AIDS session in the area. After the session ended, the two
brothers came to meet Saiful and said that their father had symptoms which he had mentioned during
the session. At that time Korimun’s husband was undergoing treatment at Chittagong Medical College
Hospital. A few day’s later the man died.
Korimun is 47 years old. She has two sons and a daughter in her family. Both her sons work in garment factories. Her husband died in July last year. The whole family had lived in Mumbai for 18 to 19 years. Her husband had worked as a tailor in big factories in India. During conversation with Korimun, it was learnt that when they
were in Mumbai in India, her husband had relations with many sex workers and was also into drugs. Despite objections, her husband carried on his relationship with the sex workers. Korimun said that
a few days before her husband’s death, the doctors of Chittagong Medical College asked her to take him home and bring him back after Eid, but did not tell anything else. The hospital handed over some test reports and kept some with them. The doctors had inquired what her husband did, whether he was addicted, or whether he had any bad habit or not. She admitted that her husband had bad habits and was addicted. The entire family had returned to Bangladesh in 2017.
Before her husband died, the doctors had asked Korimun and the rest of her family members also to
have tests. Korimun did not know exactly what caused her husband to die and why they had asked all the
members of the family to have tests. After her husband’s death, many people came to know that he was AIDS infected. The family was isolated from the society. Eminent people of the area even refrained from attending the funeral as there are many misconceptions in the society about the disease. Though awareness building on the spread of AIDS is being carried out, there is still lot to be done to overcome the misconceptions. It is very sad that due to
misconception in the society, the attendance at the funeral was very low. Peer Saiful and Field Supervisor
Mannan Mia Chowdhury were also witnesses of the incident during the funeral. Korimun and her sons came to Sangjog project office through Peer Saiful. After we came to know the situation, we realized that Korimun’s condition was very alarming. We quickly sent Korimun to ‘Ashar Alo’ organisation and after a few days she was diagnosed with HIV positive. Initially, her condition was so grave that she was not in a condition to be given treatment as starting ART treatment requires the patient to have the necessary energy. Korimun was sent Chittagong Medical College Hospital for medical treatment including blood transmission and some tests including TB. When Korimun got a little better, she was given ART. Sangjog office was in constant touch with Ashar Alo office and got regular updates and follow-up reports about Korimun. After several days of treatment, Korimun is now living a normal life.
Being able to get the service from the connection, she is now a self-dependent and has a job in a garment
factory. Both the sons of Korimun, when tested, were found to be HIV negative, but her 10-year-old
daughter was found to be HIV positive. Korimun’s daughter is now being taken care of and treated by Ashar
Alo. Sangjog is still following up Korimun through Peer Saiful.
PSTC’s Responses on Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Since the start of violence in Rakhine State, more than 700,000 people, with most of them being women
and young children, have fled Myanmar to Cox’s Bazar (part of Bangladesh). The momentum and scale of
arrivals make this the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. The incoming refugees are housed or have
sought shelter in the temporary make shifts at Ukhia and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar district where extensive
pressure is being placed on resources. The Government of Bangladesh is responding to the crisis in
partnership with national and international humanitarian and development agencies. To respond to this
humanitarian emergency, SANGJOG is delivering health care, including reproductive health services, and
has launched one health camp at Balukhali, Ukhia in September 2017 and another one at Kutupalong,
Ukhia in December 2017 with the aims to:
• Provide maternal, neonatal and child health care services,
• Provide reproductive health care services,
• Provide general health care services,
• Distribute medicines, hygiene kit,
• Provide counseling,
• Provide investigation facility for STI, HIV, Pregnancy,
Diabetes, Hepatitis B & C
A total of 6,870 patients (2,977 males and 3,893 females) of different ages from the Balukhali health camp and
709 patients (198 males and 511 females) from the Kutupalong health camp received services, so far, during
the reporting period. Among the Rohingya refugees who took service also includes a HIV positive patient.