The Financial Express

Watershed special

COVID-19: A plea for a dispensation on war footing

| Updated: June 21, 2020 13:16:02

COVID-19: A plea for a dispensation on war footing

Congratulations to the government, it’s Head in particular, for fighting the corona menace with all the might and gutsy steps. As the scale of testing escalates, the identification of the corona infected also goes up in numbers. The government has also painstakingly worked out a meaningful zoning map of the country into Red, Yellow and Green categories. The implication is that blowing up the testing of the localised Red zone inhabitants and selective Yellow zoners preferably through RAPID TESTING KITS (RTK) will give a firm handle to contain, test, diagnose, quarantine at home or hospitalise for the treatment of the infected.

May I humbly draw the attention of the Head of the Government to put the issue of saving the life of her dear citizens on WAR FOOTING. The Prime Minister may wish to set corona fighting as the topmost priority for the period up to September 30, 2020. Specifically, it will mean designating one of the ministers (outside the MOHFW) as the Chief Corona Coordinator for

  1. a) imposition of curfew in the RED ZONES for two weeks;
  2. b) arranging for emergency import of adequate number of topmost quality RTK in a week;
  3. c) ensuring selection and one week training of health workers;
  4. d) getting at least 200 centres of testing in the Red and Yellow Zones;
  5. e) ensuring 60,000 plus testing a day; and
  6. f) ordering hospital beds with facilities in the public and private hospitals as well as makeshift hospitals in the five-star hotels, stadiums, community centres, diagnostic labs, pharmacies, etc.

This scheme will not deter the Coordinator, with the approval of the Head of the Government, arranging import of duty reduced equipment, ventilators, ICU and other kits on war footing. More importantly, a new DRUG ADMINISTRATION has to be set up to work as a sharp watchdog to spot and punish selling of sub-standard and adulterated medicine and health kits. Price hiking which is a very serious malpractice these days will also have to be dealt with. Obviously, the coordinator will have to work with the MOHFW.

There is no need to panic if, by the end of August, the number of the infected rises to 0.80 million perhaps exhausting the pool of the potential corona patients who have already been contained, localized and identified under the curfew.

Efficiently strict and well-managed hospitalisation and home care would cure more than 95 per cent of the identified. Oxygen, ICU, Ventilators, Vaccines when available and WHO-prescribed medicines should be procured and made available through the regulated marketing chain under the newly-created Drug Administration.

COORDINATION and firm yet transparent handling in time will ensure realisation of the Prime Minister's desire to save life first. It will be advisable, however, to formulate a strategic development plan for the period of 01 July 2020 to 31 December 2021; the corona fighting action plan as outlined above will be a priority component of the plan.

The writer is former governor of Bangladesh Bank.

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