By GCAP Nepal / NGO Federation of Nepal

While the world is grappling with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Nepal also starts being affected and five cases are declared till today. The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of Nepal are gravely concerned by this situation since the daily lives, health and wellbeing of all the people are badly affected and the situation can be expected to be worse. We also fear that it may result in major setbacks, by pushing more people into poverty, in achieving the development goals and plans adopted by the Government of Nepal. However, we appreciate the measures taken by the Government of Nepal that includes enforcing nationwide lockdown; and the patience and obedience of the Nepalese people to stay at home in order to contain this pandemic. We also appreciate the tireless effort of medical workers and security personnel who have taken risks while they are committed to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and save the people and the nation from this crisis. 

Having been concerned with the impacts the lockdown has caused as well as the potentially more serious impacts if the lockdown is extended and if the COVID-19 spreads, and also having been concerned with the effect the situation can have, particularly in the lives of the poor, wage labor, already sick and vulnerable, NGO Federation of Nepal, on behalf of Nepali  Civil Society Organizations of Nepal, appeals Government of Nepal, development partners, international community, private sectors, and everyone concerned to seriously consider and undertake the following measures.

1. The fear of coronavirus has given rise to such a situation that private health institutions and some public ones as well refrain from delivering their health services even in health emergencies for cases other than coronavirus. This is going to have dire consequences to those who were already suffering from some diseases and need regular medicines and follow-ups. Considering this, we urge to continue delivering emergency health services and sale/distribution of medicines possibly by designating certain health centers for dealing with non-coronavirus cases. Besides, it is necessary that the pharmacies remain open with availability of essential medicines.

2. As the lockdown period extends, production and distribution of food and daily consumables is becoming more and more complex. Strict monitoring and regulation is necessary against those who increase prices taking an unfair advantage of the situation and those who engage in black marketing. While the lockdown goes on, it is essential that essential goods are available in the reasonable price; so we urge the government and private sector to manage this.

3. Lockdown has led to many self-employed people particularly in informal sectors as well as daily wage laborers lose their income. The poor, landless and vulnerable are going to be the ones hardest hit by this critical situation. Therefore, we appeal to the Government of Nepal and other stakeholders to come up with a relief package as soon as possible in order to save the lives of everyone at the bottom of economic strata. Also, many people are getting in trouble in the border areas, cities and other parts of the country due to lockdown. So, government should arrange necessary food, shelter and emergency travel arrangement as per their need to help them reach their hometown.

4. It can be learned from the situation of other countries that identification of suspected coronavirus patients, testing, isolation, and treatment are essential. But Nepal has been lagging behind in these measures. So, we urge for an adequate provisioning of all these identification, testing, isolation, and treatment measures including provisioning of all essential health equipment and supplies. It is also vital to have an availability of complete test and treatment facilities, at least one, in each of the seven provinces of Nepal.

5. The continuity of the people entering Nepal from across the border is increasing risks of the spread of coronavirus. At the same time, many Nepalese get stranded at the border. While maintaining a strategic balance between these situations, we request the Government of Nepal to check the health of everyone who enter Nepal, manage quarantine and isolation in an environment that meet WHO and Nepal Government’s standard, identify and track those who stubbornly get mixed in the society, and also coordinate with local governments in making sure that these people remain in isolation or self-quarantine for the given period of time.

6. We urge the Government of Nepal to timely mobilize the fund set up for control of coronavirus and for relief to the people most affected. In mobilizing the fund, transparency and accountability are equally important. We also urge multilateral and bilateral development partners, national and international non-government organizations, private sector and other stakeholders to come up with support and relief packages and mobilize through appropriate mechanism.

7. We urge the international community, development partners, international non-government organizations and civil society organizations to support Nepal in prevention and control of the spread of coronavirus, treatment of the patients and mitigation of the adverse consequences and also for relief and recovery. In this process, civil society organizations of Nepal as well as the central, province and district level committees and networks of NGO Federation of Nepal are always ready to cooperate and collaborate with development partners, governments at the central, province and local levels, and other stakeholders. Civil society organizations of Nepal express solidarity with all three tiers of governments of Nepal and other actors in their efforts to contain and cope with this coronavirus pandemic.

8. Finally, we solemnly request everyone to obey the lockdown order of the Government, stay at home, not to follow fake news and rumors, be patient, and also to take care of their mental health. Stay safe, stay healthy.

29 March 2020