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22nd-Nov-2020

City dwellers being forced to leave Dhaka fearing pandemic

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THE possible second wave of Coronavirus pandemic has forced many families to leave Dhaka city for their village home. The epidemic is threatening the families who survived the first wave of infection. Overcoming the shortage of laboratory, oxygen, necessary medicine, protective equipment, disinfection, ambulance service, hospitals, and physicians, strictness with the regulations, the public healthcare system is in a poor state. Mismanagement and misappropriation of relief aid by local government leaders have made the cash aid scanty. Simultaneously, supply chain disruption of essential kitchen products pushed people in urban areas into malnourishment. High corruption and low accountability in the health sector made the pandemic to suffer acute for the poor.
 The deadly pathogen has infected hundreds of thousands of people and claimed more than six thousand lives until now in Bangladesh. The country is fortunate that the rate of infection and fatality has subsided lately. No matter what the actual situation is, the majority of the population appears to be unconcerned. Most have overcome the fear of getting this highly contagious disease anytime, anywhere. A small percentage of people across the country are adhering to the safety guideline. Unfortunately, the relevant authorities have been equally negligent of their duties and responsibilities. On the part of the Health Ministry, virtually there is no strong awareness campaign.
The resources needed to facilitate better Covid-19 treatment in districts should not be a problem. The World Bank (WB) and some other donor agencies have made available funds for the purpose. As early as March this year, the WB announced $100 million to support the government's 'Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project. A part of the fund has already been utilized. The government has also allocated a substantial sum in the current financial year's budget to address Covid-19 issues.
It is appropriate for the public officials to demonstrate their integrity and seriousness in addressing the issues that have been eating into the vitals of the country's health administration. The government must prove its aptness in the healthcare system this time after failure in the first wave. We know people prefer staying home instead of going to public hospitals. While the private healthcare system is unaffordable for many, would the government support the people?