The Financial Express

Experts recommend more focus on health services than lockdown

| Updated: April 13, 2021 21:17:00

UNB file photo UNB file photo

Speakers at a webinar on Monday urged the government to focus more on improving the health services than imposing lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.

They suggested taking policy and fiscal measures to make available medicines, oxygen and other health facilities at a cheaper rate to treat the disease, saying that it is apparent the pandemic is not going away soon.

The people as well as the government should get prepared to live with the Covid-19 pandemic, they observed.

Business leaders, health experts and economists took part in the discussion on "Second Wave of Pandemic Covid-19: How to Manage the Situation", organized by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).

They also pointed out that it would be an injustice if some businesses remain open during the lockdown and some others are forced to shut down.

They also urged the government to provide financial aid to the lower income group of people during the lockdown.

Taking part in the discussion, former Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said that a significant number of businesses disappeared from the scene during the first wave of Covid-19.

"We have to learn to live with this disease without getting panicked," he said, urging the government to take steps to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine at home.

Defending the demand for keeping the readymade garments factories open during the lockdown, he said that the key message of the restrictions is to keep everyone at the point wherever they are at the time of lockdown.

"If the factories are closed, the workers will go home and thus the pandemic will spread further," he added.

CPD distinguished fellow DrMustafizur Rahman said the lockdown has impacts on the economy but, at the same time, it certainly can check the disease from spreading. He thought lives are the priority between lives and livelihoods.

CPD executive director FahmidaKhatun said it is true that the lockdown is one of the major ways of controlling the spread of the virus, the concern over the livelihoods of the poor cannot be overlooked.

The supply chain should be kept uninterrupted under special arrangements so that the prices remain stable and affordable for the low-and fixed-income groups of people, she said.

"Besides, the government should provide cash support to the poor and low-income group, who are without jobs due to the pandemic," Ms Khatun said.

She said the people should be protected from the health impacts, economic sufferings and falling into poverty.

"Since it is more than a year we're facing this crisis, our experiences gathered during this period should be taken into account while taking any initiative," she said."The policymakers should reflect on what worked well and what did not, and take measures accordingly."

CPD research director Golam Moazzem said that it is possible to reduce the health risks without causing any major damage to the economy.

It could be done if the government can develop hygiene practices through extensive campaigns and activities, he added.

He said the government should ensure adequate supply of food during the lockdown. The food distribution programmes should be conducted all over the country by expanding the scopes of various social security programmes, he added.

Newly elected BGMEA president Faruque Hasan said the shutdown of RMG factories will spread the pandemic across the country.

Lab Aid managing director Dr AM Shamim said the government should stop providing oxygen to industries as it is now more important in the hospitals and clinics than industries.

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