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UN and partners in Nepal launch emergency COVID-19 response plan

By Laxman Datt Pant

UN and partners in Nepal launch emergency COVID-19 response plan

Calling for the mobilization of US$83.7 million as an emergency response over the next three months to assist 750,000 seriously affected people in Nepal, the United Nations (UN) and partners have launched the Nepal COVID-19 Response Plan.

Endorsed by the Nepal Humanitarian Country Team and the Government of Nepal (GoN)’s COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre, this plan sets out the critical areas of support required to complement the GoN’s response efforts.

The plan brings together the priority response activities as set out in the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) to address both the health and humanitarian consequences of COVID-19.

“After several months of relatively low daily cases in Nepal, cases began to increase rapidly in mid-April, rising from 150 cases per day in early April to over 8,000 cases per day since 5 May. Over 44% of COVID-19 tests nationally are coming back positive, suggesting that case numbers are much higher than reported. Despite the surge beginning almost three weeks after India, Nepal is experiencing roughly the same number of daily cases per capita as India, but with a health system whose capacity is much more limited,” the press statement issued on May 21 by the UN in Nepal reads.

Stating that the current outbreak is having a devastating impact not just on health but across all sectors, hitting the poorest and most marginalized people in Nepal, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal, said:

“The COVID-19 Response Plan calls for swift action and international solidarity that is desperately needed to save lives and prevent unnecessary suffering today, tomorrow, and in the difficult weeks to come.” She added that there was no time to lose.

Urging the international community and friends of Nepal from around the world to come forward and help to fulfill the needs of the hour, Dr. Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav, WHO Representative to Nepal said:

“The recent surge in cases has resulted in an unprecedented need for medical supplies including oxygen, medicines, ventilators, diagnostic kits and vaccines.”

While WHO and its partners are supporting the GoN’s endeavors to mount a robust response, fighting the pandemic requires international solidarity, he added.

Concerned about the alarming new sudden rise in cases of COVID-19 in Nepal that has overwhelmed the country’s fragile health system, Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative for Nepal, said:

“As we respond to the immediate health crisis to help save lives, we cannot forget the devastating broader impact the current COVID-19 surge has on children and young people in Nepal. They are being cut off from vital support networks, losing parents and caregivers, and witnessing scenes no child should ever see.” We must come together, nationally and internationally, if we are to prevent interrupted childhoods in Nepal from being lost for good, she added.

The UN in Nepal has observed that millions of people in the country are struggling not just with the direct health impact of COVID-19 but also with hunger, malnutrition, devastating economic losses, and other health needs that are being overlooked.