AS the healthcare system in Nepal has lately been overwhelmed with a continuous surge in the number of serious COVID-19 patients, the government has intensified its efforts to deal with this problem. For the past few weeks, the country has reported more infections and deaths following the outbreak of the new strains of the virus. Many hospitals located even inside the Kathmandu Valley have begun refusing to admit patients who are in need of intensive care and oxygen because they have been running out of such facilities. The government has decided to dedicate all the government hospitals for the treatment of coronavirus patients alone for now. Dozens of coronavirus patients in different districts of the country such as Banke, Rupandehi, Kaski and Chitwan are reported to have been dying daily due to unavailability of oxygen.
In view of such a scenario, the government has called upon friendly nations to extend their helping hand to the country by providing vital health materials including oxygen cylinders, ventilators and life-saving medicines. It is worth mentioning here that China has announced to provide 20,000 oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies to Nepal. Of them, 400 cylinders have recently arrived in Kathmandu. Showing its gesture of goodwill, the Chinese government has also expressed its willingness to extend additional help to Nepal in this difficult time. A lot of Nepalis living and studying abroad have started contributing medical supplies to the country
In the meantime, the government has lately released Rs. 240 million to the account of the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital based in Teku for expanding medical facilities and services. The amount will be used for expanding oxygen supply lines in the ICU beds, refilling liquid oxygen, paying bed charges and food expenses. Likewise, Rs. 62.5 million has been given to Patan Health Sciences Academy, Rs. 27.2 to BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences and Rs. 55 million for paying the cost to install and operate high dependency units (HDU).
In addition, the government has allowed operating a charter flight on May 15 to bring in 600 oxygen cylinders from Oman. The cylinders have been donated by Nepalis living in Oman. In a bid to address the existing shortage of medical oxygen, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has already instructed each of the hospital having more than 100 beds to install an oxygen plant. The ministry has also asked them to report the work progress made about it within 15 days. The hospitals are required to coordinate with the Quality Standard and Regulation Division under the MoHP to have necessary assistance for setting up the oxygen plants.
Meanwhile, the government is all set to resume its vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic from May 16. Under this drive, the government is planning to restart the inoculation of the second dose of Vero Cell vaccine provided by China. Besides, the government is also going to start administering the second dose of Covishield vaccine in the near future. As vaccination is the best way to contain the current global public health crisis, the government must explore all possibilities to import vaccines at the earliest possible. It should leave no stone unturned to save people's lives in this public health crisis.