Kathmandu: Nepal’s politicians must set aside their differences and take decisive action in the coming weeks to save thousands of lives as the country endures a deadly second wave of Covid-19, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published on Monday.
The briefing, ‘Struggling to Breathe: The Second Wave of Covid-19 in Nepal’ calls for increased support from the international community.
While Nepal’s leaders have engaged in infighting that has seen the country’s parliament dissolved twice in the past five months, Covid-19 has run rampant, states the briefing, adding that Nepal’s infrastructure is already creaking under current caseloads, with dire shortages of oxygen, ICU beds, personal protective equipment and vaccines.
The lack of Covid-19 vaccines has also severely hampered the country’s efforts to reduce the burden on the health system and curb the spread of the virus, stated Amnesty International.
“The country’s health care system is teetering, with hospitals reaching capacity, and overstretched, hopelessly under-resourced staff are unable to keep up with overwhelming demand,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.
“Right now, to save thousands of lives, Nepal’s authorities must prioritize the procurement and supply of oxygen, which until now has been held up by inaction and bureaucratic wrangling. For its part, the international community must urgently provide supplies of oxygen, ventilators, vaccines and other life-saving products,” added Mishra.
The lack of Covid-19 vaccines has also severely hampered the country’s efforts to reduce the burden on the health system and curb the spread of the virus.
Nepal, like other countries across South Asia, is also facing a drastic shortage of vaccines. As of May 10, 2021, less than 2.5 million of Nepal’s 30 million population had received even one jab – fewer than one in ten people. COVAX, a global initiative to help low- and middle-income countries access vaccines is falling short of its commitments and richer countries continue to hoard surplus supplies well beyond their requirements.
“Nepal desperately needs more vaccines to help combat this deadly second wave of Covid-19. While countries like China and the US have now pledged to provide vaccines to Nepal, this is not enough. The international community has to come together and provide unequivocal support to global mechanisms such as COVAX to ensure equitable access to vaccines,” said Mishra.