Officials seek support from non-profits to manage dispatch and quarantine centresSocial Welfare Council was also conducting a need assessment for managing quarantine centres to generate support from non-government organisations.
The Social Welfare Council has urged national and foreign non-governmental organisations to come up with the plan to invest their financial resources in the management of dispatch (holding) and quarantine centres and isolation wards in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The call comes amid growing criticism of the government for its poor management of quarantine centres, many of which have turned into coronavirus “incubation centres”.
“Given the rising number of Covid-19 cases, additional resources are needed for the management of these facilities [quarantine and holding centres],” states a notice issued by the regulator for non-governmental organisations asking NGOs to submit a working plan to mobilise their resources in the management of holding centres, quarantine centres and isolation wards in coordination with local governments.
Durga Prasad Bhattarai, information officer at the council, said that the council was conducting a need assessment for quarantine centres.
“After the completion of this process, the council will come up with its own strategy on how domestic and foreign non-governmental organisations can contribute towards the operation of quarantine centres, said Bhattarai. Local governments will quarantine returnees from abroad before they are released from the dispatch centres, he said.
On the other hand, the council has already completed a need assessment for the dispatch centres. The government has already set up seven dispatch centres on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley to serve as a dispatch centre for Nepalis returning home from abroad after they land at Tribhuvan International Airport.
“As per our plan, non-government organizations will be responsible for arranging food, sanitizers and water when returnees are at the holding centres and on the way until they reach their respective quarantine centres,” said Bhattarai. The council expects this operation to come with a price tag of Rs 15 million.
Bhattarai said that the council was also conducting a need assessment for managing quarantine centres to generate support from non-government organisations.
Mismanagement of quarantine centres has been making national headlines in the recent days as most of the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the recent past have appeared in such centres.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens organised a meeting with domestic and foreign non-governmental organisations. During the consultation, the ministry had sought cooperation from the NGOs in two areas. “Firstly, the government sought support to make provisions for facilities such as food, hand washing, temporary toilets and awareness campaigns inside quarantine centres,” Achyut Luitel, president of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal, the grouping of foreign NGOs. “It also sought support regulating the entry of people from India through the designated 20 entry points.”
The government sought support from the non-government sector after it planned to bring Nepalis languishing abroad in trouble. Earlier this month, the government had issued an order regarding the facilitation of evacuation of Nepalis abroad.
Although the government allowed the domestic and foreign NGOs to divert 20 percent of their programme budget towards fighting Covid-19 in April, it has not specified where the amount could be spent. The council has been approving programmes submitted by the various non-government organisations to fight the epidemic.
“Most of the NGOs have spent their money on medical equipment and goods,” said Bhattarai of the council. “Now, the most pressing issue is that of the management of quarantine centres.”
“We will now seek programmes from non-government organisations to help improve quarantine centres,” said Bhattarai.