Amid the pandemicThe absence of essential medicines for almost two months is nothing short of maleficence.
There seems to be absolute negligence in providing essential services, especially for those residing in the country’s remote corners. If it isn’t the absence of doctors in Salyan, then it is the shortage of medicines in Mugu. Problems have been recurrent, yet the authorities see no way to overcome these pressing issues that the people have had to bear without any respite. Despite the continuous onslaught of the virus, it seems we have yet to learn the need for a robust healthcare system. And to the other essential question: Will we ever learn?
Unlike in Salyan, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of skilled professionals in Mugu, but government hospitals in the district have been without medicines for two months. To be without supplies for a week may be explicable, but the absence of essential medicines for almost two months is nothing short of maleficence. And to add insult to injury, people are being forced to purchase medicines from privately-run local pharmacies that should essentially be provided at no cost in government hospitals. It has come at considerable financial burden to those who can afford it, whereas for those unable to do so, their lives always seem to revolve around a series of sadness and disappointment.
People have been left to fend for themselves. Lack of essential medicines may have forced people to access health centres beyond their catchment area. And in these perilous times, venturing beyond one’s comfort zone could turn out to be risky. With newer variants of Covid-19 posing a constant threat, other health issues have taken a back seat for fear of contracting the dreaded virus. And with temperatures dipping, the situation is dire for the residents, especially in the far-flung reaches of the country.
The excuses are in abundance, from the constant change in procurement officials to lack of budget; but the truth of the matter is that there seems to be a lack of accountability. It appears to be of little concern to the authorities that most health centres have been running without essential drugs for the better part of two months. So, where lies the priorities despite the constant threat posed by Covid-19? Where is the preparedness to mitigate the risks of an explosion of cases? The unpreparedness was pretty evident recently when the country was in the grips of the second wave, and people were frantically running around looking for oxygen supplies.
It’s not just in matters concerning health. There seems to be a lack of basic amenities in areas beyond health. Whether it is crippling infrastructural issues or lack of fertilisers for farmers, or the burden of economic hardships borne out of the pandemic, for the ordinary person in Nepal, life is a constant battle with the odds stacked against him. The authorities involved in petty politics have little time for matters that rarely affect them. What is needed is just an ounce of sensitivity in shouldering the burdens of fellow brethren.