Authorities fail to prioritise pediatric care for coronavirus-infected childrenHospitals in Lumbini and Sudurpaschim yet to set up a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the treatment of Covid-19-infected children.
On June 5, the Ministry of Health and Population had directed hospitals across the country to allocate 20 percent of their beds for the treatment of children infected with Covid-19.
But most of the government hospitals in Sudurpaschim Province lack the resources to follow the directive of the federal government.
“For effective pediatric care of coronavirus-infected children, we need a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We can’t treat them at the Intensive Care Unit,” said Dr Govinda Rokaya, the Covid-19 focal person at Mahakali Hospital in Mahendranagar. “We still lack physical and human resources to set up a separate ward for children infected with Covid-19.”
The hospital has informed the Ministry of Social Development of the province and the Department of Health about the shortage of resources to establish a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the treatment of Covid-19-infected children.
“The hospital currently has two paediatricians and we are also consulting with them to prepare ourselves to treat children infected with Covid-19,” said Rokaya.
Officials at the District Health Office in Kanchanpur say Sudurpaschim is still at risk of a virus outbreak since the cross-border movement of people has gone unabated through the Gadda Chauki border point in Kanchanpur.
“The border points should be tightened and quarantine and isolation facilities should be set up to contain the virus spread,” said Siddharaj Bhatta, public health inspector at the District Health Office.
According to him, the authorities’ failure to set up quarantine and isolation facilities and conduct adequate testing has led the virus to reach the community level.
“The virus is yet to be under control. To lower the risk during the third wave of the pandemic, authorities should start preparing holding centres and quarantine and isolation facilities immediately,” said Bhatta.
“A few days ago, the Health Ministry also directed us to manage pediatric beds along with other necessary infrastructures. It is necessary to manage beds, ventilators and NICU beds for the treatment of Covid-19-infected children immediately,” said Rokaya, requesting the provincial and federal governments to provide the necessary human resources and medical supplies on time.
So far, over 1,200 children under nine years and around 2,900 individuals between nine to 19 years have been found infected with Covid-19 in Sudurpaschim Province, the data of the Provincial Health Directorate showed.
“Hospitals across the province faced challenges in the treatment of Covid-19-infected children. Hopefully, we will be better prepared to provide pediatric care to such children in the coming days,” said Hemraj Joshi, the public health inspector of the Sudurpaschim Health Directorate.
The situation is similar in Lumbini Province. The hospitals in the province have yet to allocate beds for the treatment of Covid-19-infected children.
According to the data of the Provincial Health Directorate, 684 children under five have been infected with Covid-19 in the province so far.
“There’s no data of Covid-19 infection in children above five years of age,” said Kaushal Bhandari, the Covid-19 focal person of the Provincial Health Directorate in Lumbini Province.
Currently, 105 children are infected with Covid-19 in Lumbini Province. “Until now, we don’t have separate beds for the treatment of children. We will start preparing for beds and NICU, along with the management of medicine supply, for children soon,” said Bhandari.