Monday, March 30, 2020 | ePaper

Too unmanageable a committee

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ROAD, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Monday said a 500-member committee has been formed to tackle the coronavirus situation in the country. The committee has been formed with prominent doctors of Bangladesh Medical Association following a directive by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and it would coordinate with the sub-committees of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). Quader said : "The government has taken several steps to face the situation. Various important programmes of Mujib Year were rearranged, and several others cancelled."
The lack of coordination among the ministers is acute. Two days before declaring holidays until 4 April, the government issued notification cancelling leave and holidays of the public servants to prevent  COVID-19. On Monday, when the cabinet secretary declared the holidays for all public and private entities, it was not necessary to consider what would happen for essential services such as water, gas, electricity, ambulance, police, and telecommunications.
When the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is found to be high, medical staff expressed their reluctance to provide medication due to the unavailability of PPE, the health minister said, adding he thought PPE are not too important now. Thus we have highly knowledgable ministers who do not care to know the real problem.
So it is clear the preparation for facing the crisis of life threatened by coronavirus is far from easy for the government organised as unaccountable.
The countries which went for lockdown or family quarantine first ensured their basic service delivery, the government provide essential food and other elements, but we have no kits, no PPE, no service delivery channel, no food security, no specialised hospital, no quarantine and comprehensive plan and action to contain the pandemic. Besides, 25% of the total population of the country  still live below the poverty line and hundreds of thousands of people work in the non-formal sector, people like day labourers, street vendors etc. If the lockdown is imposed, the government must ensure food and shelter for them. Otherwise, the plan would not be successful. We shall be happy if the government can prove its ability to do so.
We have to admit that we do not understand how such a huge committee of 500 persons will be able to move together and decide together what should be done on an urgent basis to deal with the urgency of the crisis.


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