Psychosocial and Socio-Economic Crisis in Bangladesh

//Psychosocial and Socio-Economic Crisis in Bangladesh

Psychosocial and Socio-Economic Crisis in Bangladesh

Background: The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the partial lockdown, the disease intensity, weak governance in the healthcare system, insufficient medical facilities, unawareness, and the sharing of misinformation in the mass media has led to people experiencing fear and anxiety. The present study intended to conduct a perception-based analysis to get an idea of people’s psychosocial and socio-economic crisis, and the possible environmental crisis, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.

Methods: A perception-based questionnaire was put online for Bangladeshi citizens of 18 years and/or older. The sample size was 1,066 respondents. Datasets were analyzed through a set of statistical techniques including principal component and hierarchical cluster analysis.

Results: There was a positive significant association between fear of the COVID-19 outbreak with the struggling healthcare system (p < 0.05) of the country. Also, there was a negative association between the fragile health system of Bangladesh and the government’s ability to deal with the pandemic (p < 0.05), revealing the poor governance in the healthcare system. A positive association of shutdown and social distancing with the fear of losing one’s own or a family members’ life, influenced by a lack of healthcare treatment (p < 0.05), reveals that, due to the decision of shutting down normal activities, people may be experiencing mental and economic stress. However, a positive association of the socio-economic impact of the shutdown with poor people’s suffering, the price hike of basic essentials, the hindering of formal education (p < 0.05), and the possibility of a severe socio-economic and health crisis will be aggravated. Moreover, there is a possibility of a climate change-induced disaster and infectious diseases like dengue during/after the COVID-19 situation, which will create severe food insecurity (p < 0.01) and a further healthcare crisis.

Conclusions: The partial lockdown in Bangladesh due to the COVID-19 pandemic increased community transmission and worsened the healthcare crisis, economic burden, and loss of GDP despite the resuming of industrial operations. In society, it has created psychosocial and socio-economic insecurity among people due to the loss of lives and livelihoods. The government should take proper inclusive steps for risk assessment, communications, and financial stimulus toward the public to alleviate their fear and anxiety, and to take proper action to boost mental health and well-being.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began spreading in November 2019, in Wuhan, China. Following this, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 as a global pandemic on March 11th, 2020 (1). COVID-19 has advanced into a pandemic, starting initially as small clusters of transmission that combined into larger clusters in many countries, subsequently resulting in a widespread transmission (2). Social isolation, institutional and home quarantine, social distancing, and community containment measures were applied without delay (3). Through quick administrative action and raising awareness for individuals on social-distancing, stringent steps were taken to manage the spread of the disease by canceling thousands of locations that involved social gathering including offices, classrooms, reception centers, clubs, transport services, and travel restrictions, leaving many countries in complete lockdown (4). The remarkable actions and ventures in public health to quarantine mass numbers has prevented this virus from spreading exponentially between humans in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, despite initial cases (25).

However, a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks in all inhabitable continents, with 84,187 deaths alone in the USA, indicates that the infection had passed the tipping point (16). Today, as of the 26th of May 2020, total global COVID-19 cases have risen to 5,637,381, with the total number of deaths escalating to 3,49,291 (7). The accelerating spread of COVID-19 and its outcomes around the world has led people to experiencing fear, panic, concern, anxiety, stigma, depression, racism, and xenophobia (8). Bangladesh confirmed their first COVID-19 case on the 8th of March 2020 (9), followed by a nationwide lockdown from 26 March which had been extended several times until 30th May 2020 to prevent human transmission. The government deployed armed forces to facilitate social distancing on March 24th. Emergency healthcare services and law enforcement were exempt from this announcement. Yet more than 11 million people left Dhaka to return to their home districts and thus helped spread the diseases nationwide. Moreover, from the 25th of April 2020, all ready-made-garment (RMG) factories, industries, private offices, and business centers were allowed to open, leading to a “partial lockdown” in the country. The migration of RMG workers to the industrial districts and less community awareness about the disease has increased the transmission among millions of people.

The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MFHW) and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), is responsible for researching epidemiological and communicable diseases such as COVID-19 in Bangladesh, as well as disease control and surveillance. Initially, IEDCR was the single and centralized laboratory for COVID-19 testing in Bangladesh (9). The DGHS, on the other hand, is the responsible body for the coordination of testing and sample collections of COVID-19 patients (10). As of the 26th of May 2020, according to IEDCR, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases stands at 36,751 with 522 deaths (Figures 1A,B). According to IEDCR, those aged between 21 and 40 are with the highest number of cases (55%), while those aged above 60 have had fatal cases of the disease (42%). At present, the fatality rate in Bangladesh is 1.41% (26th May 2020) which was initially 10.4% (8th April 2020) (9).