Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Enhance Health Facilities

Nepal has been facing a very tricky situation with the emergence of a deadlier second wave of coronavirus. Most parts of the country have now been into partial or full lockdown. This harsh measure has been in place to rein in the fatal virus disease. The federal government has decided to mobilise all its means and resources to bring this unseen enemy under control. The COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) has come up with a crucial decision to integrate the entire national healthcare system against the contagion. The CCMC meeting, which was held in the presence of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday at Singha Durbar, decided to work towards resolving the existing legal complexities in order to bring the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and provincial hospitals into full operation. The decision seeks to end the scarcity of intensive care beds, medical oxygen and ventilators.

The government is in favour of simplifying the procedures regarding the import of medical supplies and treatment of patients. The Prime Minister stated that no citizen should lose their life owing to lengthy legal formalities or due to lack of financial resources. "If the process is cumbersome, do what you have to do to save life of the citizens immediately by shortening the work procedure that can be done in a week or a day," he instructed the CCMC. The unprecedented rise in hospitalisation in COVID-19 hotspots has lately led to an acute shortage of essential services in hospitals. Many patients have died in lack of oxygen in hospitals and home isolations. Taking this into serious consideration, the government is assisting all the oxygen industries to operate them in full swing.

The government has also decided to give concessions to oxygen producing industries on electricity tariffs. Last month, it exempted the customs duty, value added tax (VAT) and excise duty on the import of medical equipment, including oxygen, to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The production of oxygen is expected to increase considerably soon. Thousands of oxygen cylinders have also arrived from different countries, including China. The government has decided to urge India to help Nepal in the import of liquid oxygen to meet its ever increasing demand. The government has also decided to request the responsible agencies for the supply of the essential jabs as early as possible.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international donors have shown their serious concern over a fast spread of the coronavirus in Nepal. They have been lobbying for making available the vaccines to the country soon. The Ministry of Finance has allocated more than Rs. 4.31 billion for upgrading the health services and facilities in hospitals and purchasing medicines and other medical supplies. Of the total fund, the ministry has set aside about Rs. 2.95 billion for 26 central hospitals and nine provincial hospitals for managing oxygen plants and ventilators among other necessary medical supplies. Such initiatives may help boost the country's healthcare system.