KATHMANDU, MAY 7
With the number of coronavirus cases hitting a new high each day, the health system of the country is on the verge of collapse.
Moreover, it has exposed the glaring failure of the government and the ministries concerned.
The government's efforts till date have proved to be too little to contain the spread of the virus and provide health facilities to the ailing people of the country.
Amid all this, many individuals from home and abroad have taken initiatives through social media to offer help to COVID victims and provide much needed information during the present health crisis.
Tweets, posts, stories and hashtags such as these have taken media platforms by storm as the second wave of the COV- ID-19 pandemic has rendered a serious blow to the country's health system. Tweets like this are enough to prove that there is a complete mismanagement in accessibility and allocation of health services.
In these uncertain times, numerous social media platforms have emerged to take on the burden to provide resources for the treatment of COVID-19 to the people in the dire need. This should have been the sole responsibility of the government, but the government has utterly failed on this front.
"None of the public health and clinical experts who should have published and disseminated credible and timely information on Nepal COVID-19 emergency have taken initiate to address the information gap seen in managing resources and extending services.
Even the Ministry of Health and Population is lagging behind in this regard," shared Ichhya Pant, who handles the NepalCO- VIDIndoX and NepalCOVIDSOS twitter handles, a few such social media ventures intended at addressing COVID-19 emergencies.
"Nepal deserves more accountability from social media platforms in this regard and NepalCOVIDInfoX will work towards advocating for information equity and justice," added Pant, who is a research scientist at the George Washington University's School of Public Health in Washington DC and a Doctoral candidate in behaviour change.
Another group of individuals who are active on a social platform Viber is COVID-19 Emergency Group. Talking to the Himalayan Times, Prashikchhya Parajuli, one of the admins of the group shared that the group had been created on 29th April, the first day of the lockdown. In this short span of time, the group currently has over 2,000 active members who collectively address more than hundreds of problems put forth by the people each day.
According to Parajuli, as the pandemic was sweeping across India, she knew that this would definitely hit Nepal also and the quick-witted realisation led her to create the Viber group, which is run in collaboration with six of her friends who too like Parajuli are public health graduates and work at the Teku-based Department of Health Services.
COVID Connect Nepal is yet another group created on social media platform by eight persons to address the problems of people during the COVID-19 emergencies.
Within the six days of its creation, the groups is helping hundreds of people in various ways.
Suraj Raj Pandey, 24, one of the co-founders of COVID Connect Nepal, talking to The Himalayan Times via phone, shared that he had been closely observing the second wave of the pandemic in India and the massive toll it had taken on the health care system of the country for a few weeks.
Pandey very soon realised that Nepal's fate won't be any different, it was just a matter of time.
"One major reason further deepening the crisis in Delhi was the gap between those who had the resources and those who did not. Therefore, with the purpose of saving more lives by connecting people with resources to people without resources, we immediately opened social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber. As more requests started coming in, we began working on a website where people can receive and offer help," Pandey informed.
The Covid Connect Nepal initiative has been a boon for the COVID-19 patients as through the website one can both request and offer help in receiving and providing essentials including bed, oxygen, food and vehicles, among others.
Thank you everyone! The medicine has been acquired and delivered.- Abhilasha Shrestha, PhD, MPH (@ashrestha) May 1, 2021
Unlike Abhilasha, whose need for Remdesivir was addressed through social media, these urban-centric platforms in operation have not been kind to all as the reality of 'digital-divide' still daunts us all wherein just on Tuesday Lok Bahadur Pariyar, 45, of Dhanusha succumbed to COVID-like symptoms after hospitals in the district refused to admit him citing bed crunch.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 8, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.