#Unpardonable failure

As Oli government limits its role to counting deaths during the greatest public health crisis, people are dying at an alarming rate

Published On: October 19, 2020 11:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Experts say the government has decided to shred the constitution  

KATHMANDU, Oct 19: With the decision of not bearing the cost of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests and treatment of COVID-19 patients, the government has limited its COVID-19 response to just collecting the data of new and death cases across the country and announce the same to the people.

As a matter of fact, the government’s response to Covid-19 was lighthearted from the very start. The prime minister and his ministers dismissed the virus as just another flu, and could be cured by simply drinking hot water and turmeric. Then the Nepalis working in India and elsewhere started coming back. The health systems were quickly overwhelmed. The designated isolation and quarantine centers became the superspreader hotspots. Then there was a massive corruption scam in medical equipment purchases, the infamous Omni Group scandal destroyed any faith that the people had in the government to take care of them.  

The Ministry of Health and Population ( MoHP) on Sunday directed the general public to undergo PCR tests and COVID-19 treatments on their own.Earlier, the government had been providing free health treatments to COVID-19 patients.

The Public Health Service Act (2018) has a provision for the citizens  to receive free health services and treatments of communicable diseases.

Reports of COVID-19 patients dying due to lack of ICU beds and isolation facilities have been pouring in from across the country. In the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our time, the government’s decision to not provide treatment has raised questions over the state’s obligation to ensure the fundamental rights of people guaranteed in the constitution.

According to advocate Kedar Karki, the government cannot violate people’s right to free basic health facilities which has been introduced as a fundamental right in the constitution. “It is the duty of the state to keep its citizens safe during the pandemic,” he said.  

As many as 2,942 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded across the country on Sunday, taking Nepal’s COVID-19 case tally to 132,246 including 739 cases of fatalities. 

Sunday’s announcement comes at a time when the government’s presence has been conspicuous by absence. The Oli government proved, once again, that it is not capable of taking care of the people during the biggest health crisis, say public health experts.

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