KP govt extends public health emergency to cope with Covid situation

Published December 1, 2020
In this file photo, a paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, a paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has extended public health emergency for four more months to ensure rapid procurement of medical equipment and strict implementation of the standard operating procedure for prevention of Covid-19 in the province.

The extension of the emergency, which was first enforced in February when the pandemic broke out, is meant to ensure prompt procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) along with medicines for effective management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the province.

A notification issued on Monday said that the health emergency was extended from December 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 to be able to cope with the threat posed by the coronavirus efficiently.

Officials said that government had invoked Public Health (Surveillance and Response) Act, 2017 on February 3 to be able to acquire medical supplies and other resources in speedy manner and put brakes on possible transmission of the virus.

It will enable health dept to ensure prompt procurement of PPEs, medicines

The emergency was extended from time to time to relax normal procedures of procurement and resource availability to help the relevant authorities to take quick measures unlike normal procedure that takes longer to procure medicines, etc.

Officials said that extension of emergency was approved by the chief minister on the recommendation of health department to purchase the required medicines and equipment for the hospitals and at the same time give legal cover to the activities of the administration to strictly enforce adherence to Covid-19 SOPs. It gives legal protection to the measures taken by the administration.

They said that lockdowns, sealing of shops and limiting gatherings in the markets and ensuring use of face masks, keeping social distancing and washing hands were covered under the emergency law.

Officials said that the province reported one death and 181 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of mortalities from the infection to 1,369 and cases to 47,370 since the onset of the virus.

Keeping in view the severity of the second wave, the government wanted to fully enforce SOPs as well as ensure timely availability of the PPEs and other medicines and equipments at the hospitals to manage the patients effectively, they added.

They said that that the last 10 days witnessed steep surge in the deaths caused by Covid-19 due to which it was urgent to provide PPEs to staff and send medical supplies to the medical teaching institutions and some district hospitals that were catering to the needs of coronavirus patients.

Officials said that timely extension of emergency would enable health department to procure emergency drugs and provide the same to the hospitals.

In the first wave, the department faced a problem in getting PPEs, equipment and medicines from the market because of the rising demand worldwide, they added.

To avoid shortage of medicines and PPEs, the department was going to start procurements as soon as possible to be able to strengthen the hospitals, they said. Any delay can cause problems because later most of the items required by Covid-19 patients will be in short supply like it was experienced in the first phase of the ailment.

“Also, the protection of our staff is the main issue, therefore, attention is being paid to purchasing PPEs for the hospitals to safeguard the staff against contracting the infection,” said officials.

They said that in the first wave, more than 2,000 health workers got infected with the Covid-19 and 22 of them died. Therefore, PPEs were very important to purchase and safeguard the staff, they added.

Not only PPEs, but the department also wanted to procure medicines, which would be in short supply as soon the second wave got worse, they said.

“Therefore, we want to get fully prepared and deal with emergency patients effectively. Extension in public health emergency will enable health department and district administration to take steps for the treatment of patients and force the people to follow the precautionary measures,” said the officials.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2020

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