Distribution of face masks free of cost, creating awareness and motivating people through social and religious influential figures to comply with the health safety guidelines, especially in public places, are necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19, a study has revealed on Wednesday.
The study found that regular reminder to wear mask and monitoring the impact can bring behavioural change among people, increasing mask wearing practices by threefold.
The findings of the survey were unveiled at a webinar titled "Normalising Masks: Health and Economic Implications" organised by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Mashiur Rahman addressed the programme as the chief guest while Finance Division Senior Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder and Planning Division Secretary Mohammad Jainul spoke as special guests with BIDS Director General Dr Binayak Sen in the chair.
Besides, ICDDR,B Emeritus Scientist (Infectious Diseases Division) Dr Firdausi Qadri and BRAC Executive Director Asif Saleh spoke as panellists while Yale University, USA Professor Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak presented the keynote paper.
In the presentation, Mr Mobarak said a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that face masks can slow the spread of Covid-19 and save lives, but mask usage remains low across many parts of the world like Bangladesh.
In the control group, proper mask-wearing was practiced by 13 per cent of the respondents during the study period.
On the other hand, mask wearing practice was tripled (29 percentage point) among intervention group comparing to the control group.
The intervention was made through free mask distribution, encouragement through community leaders, reminding people in streets and public places to put on masks, etc.
This tripling of mask usage was sustained over all 10 weeks of surveillance, Mr Mobarak said.
However, the survey also found that there is little impact in mask wearing practices through encouragement from political leaders and public representatives only.
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