Is Government Doing Sufficient to respond COVID 19?

03 July, 2020

Domestic Politics

The devastating public health crisis created by the coronavirus has a huge impact on human health globally. The virus, which has emerged from the city of Wuhan in China, has already killed 521,490 people affecting 10,923,460 till July 2, 2020 (WHO). If we look into the data of Nepal the confirmed case till July 2 is 14,519 and death is 31 as per Ministry of Health and Population Data (MOHP). Despite the fact WHO has declared Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January 2020 and pandemic on March 11, 2020, the exponential growth of confirmed cases affected by coronavirus was overlooked by some developed nation with advance public health strategy and health service delivery due to distance. From this what we can learn is that the world as a global village people can move from the North Pole to the South Pole in a day. Thus, such outbreak should be taken into account seriously to mitigate public health deterioration. The virus has not been unequal in its outbreak as the developed nation with an excellent health care system like America, United Kingdom, Italy France etc. is bearing high death toll.  It is imperative to understand that the world has already faced three major coronavirus infections in the past two decades, which are: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003; Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-2012) and Coronavirus Disease (COVID 19). It is not been long that H1N1 virus, Ebola and Zika virus killed hundreds and thousands of people. It is crucial to develop a strong framework globally and nationally to reduce the spread of various outbreaks despite playing the blame games, as we have to face outbreaks in the future that can challenge human existence.


A developing nation like Nepal with the poor health system performance has to take the concrete initiative to manage epidemic or pandemic in the future through lessons learned from the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Not only in health, but the expert analysis has also depicted that there is a direct impact on the Nepalese economy as it is fully dependent on other countries and imports. However, the early initiative taken through lockdown and rapid surveillance to detect the coronavirus through RDT in the high-risk area to reduce the transmission of the virus has reduced certain level of containment. But very minimal effort or no effort is taken in research and expert team formation and mobilization to resolve the public health issue during such an emergency period. There is a critical shortage of public health experts in Nepal despite the production of thousands of public health graduates either from Nepalese institutions or from the neighboring countries and other nations. This issue has to be solved and the government should provide a charming environment for the scientists, public health practitioners and others health care personnel to reduce persistent dependence on international consultants to manage public health issues, often leading to inequitable, expensive, and uncoordinated development efforts and tackle public health crisis. There is a clear example that two neighboring nations of Nepal i.e. India and China are in the frontline in research and other pharmaceutical productions (production of different medicines, vaccines etc.). The federal government of Nepal has to reduce dependency on everything and should not forget the fact that health is enlisted as a fundamental right in the constitution of Nepal.  Dependency even in a single mask or basic PPE is utterly unacceptable which hinders health service delivery during the crisis. There are people like Mahabir Pun who wants to produce scientist; there might be assortment of such innovative and visionary people who are thriving to work something new for Nepal and are waiting for the opportunity should be motivated and mobilized.


Never too late, it is crucial to develop a resilient health care system through proper service delivery creating and mobilizing experts as needed. Effective national health policy with good governance is also important so that nobody will question on the government working process like earlier where the ministry of health and population has to cancel the whole process of purchase of essential goods to tackle COVID 19 outbreak with Omnicare and had to begin from initial. Sufficient technology and health care facilities (i.e. health centers, hospitals, labs etc.) should be decentralized and specialized so that people should not have to depend on a single lab for tests or a single hospital for a check-up. Despite focusing on the RDT test that already showed the many failure cases it should focus on the PCR test and proper screening of the migrant through a qualitative approach. Due to precarious quarantines facilities and people, resistance on remaining in the facilities WHO chief has already suggested that Government of Nepal has to focus on improving the quarantines facilities rather than doing more test. It is vivid that there is no progress in containing the virus despite the more than three months lockdown period, which ended on June 14. Individual responsibility is also crucial but the strong government health strategy to act in this pandemic is equally important.


Apart from health, the economy of Nepal should be strengthened which help to support people during such crisis. People with innovation and ideas should be given the opportunity to produce something new. It is always beneficial to learn from other countries regarding containing the virus through effective management and appropriated health policy like China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand etc.  COVID 19 has allowed Nepal’s federal government to learn and tackle the pandemic so from next time the government should be well prepared and should not wait for external instruction for the response.


The views expressed above belong to the author.