It's governance, stupidCitizens are bearing the brunt of the patchwork of responses by the government.
Nepal’s coronavirus failure was inevitable, given the bungling by the leadership of the Oli administration from the very start. The government still doesn’t seem to understand its primary responsibility of protecting the citizens, as can be felt in its botched guidelines in response to the pandemic, from testing and treatment guidelines to precautionary measures for the public to dead body management.
With no science-guided strategies in place to break the chain of transmission, the coronavirus threat has found fertile conditions to escalate while citizens are bearing the brunt of the patchwork of responses by the government.
According to the World Health Organisation’s situation update, Nepal has the lowest recovery rate of 70.03 percent and the highest 29.2 percent of active cases in South Asia. The latest update from the UN body also notes that over half of the active cases in the country are currently home isolated, posing problems in following up the clinical status. It further warns that case investigation and contact tracing together with additional isolation, intensive care, and ventilatory beds needs to be ramped up rapidly in Kathmandu Valley, which is contributing to the national caseload.
Latest epidemiological data from across the country tells us that our response to this public health emergency requires robust efforts to improve our situation. The pandemic is thus an opportunity for the Oli administration to build on whatever foundations we have, not flounder at the cost of people’s suffering and lives, and the economy.
But since the onset of the pandemic, the Oli administration has been caught in a series of corruption allegations, misuse of funds and internal conflict within the ruling party. While these traits have been the hallmark of every successive government, the continuity of these malpractices amid the pandemic has shaken the public more than the disease itself. It indicates a larger problem that plagues the country–poor governance.
The country cannot suffer any longer because of incompetent politicians and poor governance. Our problems will only grow if the Oli administration washes its hands of primary duties towards the nation and the citizens. It must correct its course and reverse all glaring decisions that hamper previous efforts and public sacrifice in managing the pandemic. It must, foremost, listen to public health agencies, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts and review its misguided policies.
Our fragile healthcare system has already collapsed following the colossal rise in new infections and Covid-19 patients in need of critical care. People have also been pushed further into poverty, and more job losses seem inevitable soon, and every sector of the country has been hit by the pandemic, with no safety nets in sight. This is the gravest challenge we as a nation currently face.
The urgency of preventing new infections and protecting lives and the country’s economy has never been as great as it is now. If the Oli administration does not capitalise on every opportunity to contain the disease, the country is bound to face multiple crises and see the pandemic decimate all hard-won achievements of the past. Seven months on, there is not a dearth of warning but of effective governance and accountable leaders who are answerable to the public.