The world-wide Corona crisis will bring about many changes in the coming years and decades of the twenty-first century. It has brought our attention to the fact that man though he considered himself supreme over the ages has been cut down to size by the fact that the epidemics / pandemics by the bacteria or virus over the ages have caused havoc in humankind’s domain anywhere in the world. Whether this pandemic originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory or in a research laboratory connected with the University of Texas is a matter to think about.
When the National Health Service was introduced in the United Kingdom by Aneurin Bevan, the health minister in the post-World War II Labour government of Clement Atlee, the USA authorities were said to have remarked that they could not afford such facilities in America.
The Corona statistics of mid-June 2020 is that USA, Brazil, Russia, India and UK are those countries which seem to be massively affected. Whilst investigation and analysis are being done all over the world and conclusions derived therefrom, one can at this stage ponder over some facts. The different federal states of USA spent a large amount of money on its health services. The stress was on public health but it seems that the services provided to the Black community over the years was never adequate and out of reach. Though many centres of learning abound and research is being done extensively, the bottom line seems to be that many health institutions managed by the CEO’s are obliged to always show profit and should never be in the red. The pharmaceutical industry with its built-in support to the prescribing doctors calls the tune and collects huge profits even from harmful drugs such as the opioids. Doctors, nurses and health technicians from many developing countries of the world are also a part of this as they work in that country.
Reviewing the effect of the Corona virus, it is ironic that the USA, the richest country in the world has the highest death rate. The UK which has had a National Health Service for seventy-five years is not far behind. Is it because the elderly, for cost effective reasons were at Old Age Homes and thus overlooked and died in relatively large numbers? Surprisingly it is Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Germany which had lower death rates. Was it because of the custom of wearing masks or of early lockdowns? In Brazil, the rates of dying are high. Was it because a large majority of the indigenous population of the country were deprived of health services? Were the corona peaks in urban areas of India’s due to the fact that out of town workers had to live in unsanitary ghettos?
Nearer home we see that the areas around Mumbai and New Delhi have the highest rates. The two cities boast of providing the best health services from well-known institutions and are in the forefront of medical tourism. Many Nepalis flock there for treatment too.
What is there for us Nepalis to learn from all this. Though we have had sixty-two days of lockdown which started relatively early, the fact is that our performance has been dismal. There has been a scam in the procurement of testing equipment of doubtful reliability, ventilators that don’t function and irregularities in the provision of quarantine facilities to Nepalis returning home from distant lands in different parts of the world. The quarantine conditions being sub-human, the food supplied being sub-standard and inadequate made many of the returnees flee from there. In such an environment, some of returnees have even committed suicide. A statement made by one the opposition members in our House of Representatives on such a dismal state of affairs was that the government, being so incompetent should stop all testing for Covid-19 so that Nepal could state that there are no further cases are reported in the country! His demand was a full clarification. Currently non-political groups with slogans such as ‘Covid-19 Enough is Enough’, ‘Sanitize Our Government’ & ‘Save Nepal’ are on the streets demanding a statement of accounts. The sad part of all this is that we have not learnt any lessons from the mismanagements that took place in the wake of the 2015 earthquake.
Bearing all these facts in mind it is obvious that the health services which the government is currently providing is grossly inadequate in view of the fact that as per our constitution, Health is a Birth-right of the Nepalis. The government of the day is certainly not providing it!
The current situation of health services is that it is grossly inadequate for the almost thirty million people of this land. The principle of Public Private Mix was accepted long ago but has not been properly implemented. It is obvious that we need far greater numbers of personnel in the health sector to provide a proper health service to all our people. The capacity of existing institutions producing workers in the field of health field has to be substantially increased. The crux of the matter is that a certain percentage of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and health technicians in various fields produced in this country will go to other lands where the grass is greener. This should not be taken as a setback but rather as a challenge to ensure that the individuals that are trained are fully capable to carry out the necessary duties wherever they may be. Apparently, Nepalis are currently working in as many as 161 countries of the world! Wow. It is our duty to push our present government to take steps so that we Nepalis progress to the maximum extent!
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd