The Ministry of Health and Population announced last week that the country’s health system will not be able to cope with the pandemic at its current pace due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
The argument, which attracted widespread criticism, stated that if the number of cases continued to increase, government hospitals would be unable to meet their needs. Following the release of the statement, citizens of the country have been reminding the Health Ministry that it cannot avoid accountability, particularly at such a sensitive time, and that it has done little to nothing in the past.
There was, however, a lot they should have done. There was a lot the country might have learned last year that would have been beneficial today as well. The government, especially the prime minister, has been dismissive of the situation, attempting to avoid all responsibility.
The government made a big error by not closing the border or monitoring border movement as the number of cases in India continued to increase. It loosened all entry requirements for visitors from any country.
Although a mandatory two-week quarantine was in effect for much of last year, those rules were suspended this year, with all that was needed to enter Nepal being a negative PCR report obtained within the previous 72 hours. Nepal has also become a transit country for Indians traveling to other countries.
Flights to Nepal have been suspended for the time being, according to the government.
Touch tracing received a lot of attention last year. People who had been in direct touch with Covid-19 patients were contacted by local ward offices. But none of that is happening this year. The ward offices are at a loss about what to do now that touch tracing has been halted.
The government must ensure that further experiments are performed in order to get this under control. However, this isn’t happening because people just monitor when they have Covid-19 symptoms. As the virus spreads through entire populations, the lack of testing has become a major concern.
That isn’t the case. The government has made a number of mistakes. The government’s lack of proactiveness has resulted in such a dilemma by turning a blind eye to sirens.
Here’s a rundown of four big blunders made by the government as the nation recently entered the second phase of the pandemic:
1. Border closure without a lockdown
It was the right decision to shut down the districts with a high number of Covid-19 patients. Despite the fact that the government issued prohibitory orders, the flights continued. The border is open until today, allowing people who might have been infected with the virus to enter the country without being quarantined. The government’s reluctance to close the border with India has created a significant issue.
2. A lack of communication with stakeholders
During last year’s lockdown, the government arranged several meetings with the Nepal Medical Association and other health-care experts. However, there haven’t been enough debates this year.
An allowance was also announced to promote the health sector. There hasn’t been anything like that this year. Instead, doctors are being threatened by the government for speaking the facts. Another explanation the situation is out of control is because of this.
3. There is no collaboration with private hospitals.
It is obvious and understandable that the government cannot meet the needs of all Covid-19 patients on its own. But at the very least, it should have approached private hospitals for assistance. However, no discussions with private hospitals have taken place as of today.
The government benefited greatly from the cooperation last year because it was able to make sound decisions on how to move forward and what to do if the situation were out of control. Nothing like this has happened this year. The government has yet to have such consultations with the health sector.
As a result, all government-run hospitals are at capacity. If the government asked, private medical colleges and hospitals could assist the government for a limited time. Otherwise, things would deteriorate.
4. Human resource mobilization that is ineffective
In state-owned hospitals across the country, there are just over 1,300 physicians. When Nepal’s population was 15 million, this figure was set. The population has doubled, but the number of doctors has remained constant.
We’ve heard of hospitals that have been harmed by a shortage of physicians. Last year, the number of government doctors, as well as other health professionals such as nurses and hospital employees, should have been increased to at least 4,000.
People can wonder how the government is able to appoint doctors in such a short period of time. They may, however, recruit them on a temporary basis. After the pandemic has been brought under control, it would be possible to hold a competition and award permanent positions to doctors based on examinations and performance reviews. In these risky days, the government cannot use doctors at will and let them go haphazardly.
We are living in perilous times. The time for action has passed, but all is not lost. If we want to monitor this pandemic, we need to increase research and increase the number of health professionals.