As there is no end in sight to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the countries like Nepal have no option but to strengthen the existing healthcare system to cope with this public health crisis. The country's weak healthcare system is under strain with the growing number of COVID-19 patients. As the Kathmandu Valley has turned into a hotspot for the coronavirus, public as well as private hospitals here now are now facing difficulty in providing Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and ventilators to patients. The situation of hospitals outside the capital valley is worse as they lack other health workers and vital equipment. However, in such a situation, a few local governments have taken the initiative to develop COVID-19 special hospitals. Others have also purchased machines for carrying out Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
Most of the local levels in Kailali district, as per a news report carried by this daily Wednesday, are working to set up hospitals for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Reaslising the need to have separate health facilities for them, the federal government has adopted the policy of running a five-bed COVID-19 special hospital at each local level. It has also set aside Rs. 1 million for each of the local levels for the purpose. In line with the central government's policy and budget, the local governments have stepped up efforts to establish such health facilities.
Of the total budget of Rs. 1 million allocated for each of the local levels in the district, they are spending Rs. 450,000 on the salary of health workers, Rs. 50,000 for medicines and Rs. 500,000 for beds. Kailari Rural Municipality is among the 13 local levels in Kailali district. The local government has already started the process of hiring health workers to operate a COVID-19 special hospital at Sarbodaya Primary School. Earlier, the school had been used as an isolation centre for the patients infected with the lethal virus disease. The local level aims to launch the hospital immediately after hiring the health workers. It is utilising the budget allocated by the central government to upgrade the isolation centre and add more beds. Bhajani Municipality is upgrading the existing primary health centre into a COVID-19 special hospital. The local level has already hired two staff nurses and one helper. It is planning to deploy the incumbent doctor of the primary health centre for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. In view of the possible rise in the number of the coronavirus patients in the future, the hospital will have 10 beds for such patients.
As per the guideline issued by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), each COVID-19 special hospitals is required to hire a doctor, two nurses and a helper by utilising the budget released by the federal government. If such hospitals need other staff, the local levels will have to hire and pay for them. The two local levels in the hilly area of the district are now looking for community buildings to establish such hospitals. The local governments have now a tougher time to keep their promise made during the election and deal with the pandemic. Their performance will be measured on the basis of their handling of this public health emergency.