Wednesday July 06, 2022

COVID-19 policy- shades of grey

May 19, 2020

As a new dawn welcomed the arrival of the blessed of Ramazan, it was far from ideal, the current predicament the earth’s population is facing has transformed this Ramazan in inconceivable ways. Mosques around the globe are closed, with cancellation of communal prayers, societies forced to seclude themselves within their homes, for the first time the sanctified Kabaa sits idle as confusion weighs its presence, what the future prospects will be are unclear.

The entire globe is under attack, taken siege by an unseen enemy, COVID-19 has submerged the world into depths of disarray, governments left baffled as the world hangs in limbo as to what will happen next. Medical teams all across the globe are fighting a war against a dreadful disease endangering humanity, advancing at the forefront saving lives, urging people to stay home to somewhat repress the proliferation of the virus.

Pakistan continued to exercises imprudence as the short-sighted decision taken by our central government highlights the pinnacle of foolishness. The government initially authorised communal prayers in mosques with adherence to strict guidelines. However study conducted by an NGO spoke otherwise as mosques continued to remain the epitome of negligence.

As if allowing communal prayers was not enough, the PM took a witless injunction against the advice of medical fraternity by alleviation of the lockdown In spite of sharp escalation with thousand plus cases reported on daily basis with parallel increase in deaths. WHO warned the government that Pakistan may observe unequivocally more than 200,000 cases within the coming weeks if restrictions were not maintained. UNDP ranked Pakistan among the countries that are least prepared to tackle the virus. Thus its mind boggling taking into consideration the current circumstances and then pondering over the stupendous decision taken by our government.

To make matters worse, the travel restrictions have been lifted which will invariably allow disseminating the disease to the areas where it was not witnessed prior. With Eid holidays, all hell will break loose. Unfortunately the attitudes witnessed in the markets after easing restrictions was disheartening as well as disappointing. Has the government not comprehended the fact that, our health sector is like a cart on wheels, literally being pulled and hauled to go forward. Pakistan spends 2.8% of its GDP on health, for every 10,000 Pakistanis there are just 6 hospital beds, 10 doctors and 5 nurses.

Lockdown unfortunately is the only answer to mitigate the impact of the virus and if not established in its true essence a grave disaster is in the making. The precarious health structure would crumble under the pressure. Of course one cannot undermine the dilemma faced by the destitute, the poverty stricken that are struggling to make ends meet. Benazir income and Ehsaas programme are at the forefront, however despite best efforts this cannot transgress to appease large segments of society. This may be difficult though not impossible if the army of advisors present at the disposal of PM can sit down and devise a policy harnessing their expertise to cater to the most desperate by utilizing the highly paid members of parliament to recede to their respected constituencies mobilizing teachers from local schools as both are knowledgeable with regards to the area and its inhabitants.