Diphtheria Treatment Center Opens in Bangladesh

January 9, 2018 • Bangladesh

Samaritan’s Purse is responding to an outbreak of diphtheria among Rohingya refugees.

Samaritan’s Purse has opened a Diphtheria Treatment Center in Bangladesh to serve Rohingya refugees. These displaced families are in desperate need of medical care. The now 70-bed center, constructed in just a few weeks, is receiving patients upon referral; we are the only diphtheria center for the southern half of the largest refugee camp.

Many of those seen at the Diphtheria Treatment Center are children.

Many of those seen at the Diphtheria Treatment Center are children.

UPDATE Jan. 17: The center received its first patients on Jan. 1, 2018, and has now seen more than 1,000 individuals, with over 300 admitted, including dozens in critical condition. People with diphtheria have come in gasping for air, and, then, within a 24-hour period, they’ve experienced an amazing turnaround as a result of treatment. Many of the ill have been young children. The center has already opened up opportunities to share why Samaritan’s Purse is there and why we do what we do in Jesus’ Name.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar in the past four months and are living in crowded refugee camps. Our treatment center is in Kutupalong camp, where the diphtheria outbreak is concentrated. The camp is the largest among the Rohingya refugee camps, with more than 800,000 people (including those who arrived before this fall).

Our multinational Disaster Assistance Response Team is on the ground to operate the center, which is offering expert medical treatment and compassionate care in Jesus’ Name. Additional equipment and supplies have been recently delivered as well. We have also hired several Bangladeshi nurses and dozens of local staff and construction workers.

Samaritan's Purse medical personnel are busy caring for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Samaritan’s Purse medical personnel are busy caring for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Diphtheria, a serious bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose, is spreading among Rohingya refugees living in cramped, difficult conditions. Over 1,800 cases have been reported by the World Health Organization. Children are especially susceptible, and most have yet to be immunized against this disease. If left untreated, the illness can cause severe damage to one’s kidneys, nervous system, and heart—and it can be fatal.

We also are at work at Memorial Christian Hospital in Bangladesh, where many Rohingya refugees are receiving surgical care. Read more about our work there.

Please pray for the Rohingya who are suffering during this crisis. Pray they will come to know and understand God’s love for them.

Note: This article was originally published Dec. 21 and has been updated to reflect the opening of the center on Dec. 31. The most recent update was added Jan. 9.