Editorial

Multi-pronged committees

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/2/2020 1:36:41 PM IST

 A saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”, may be appropriate to describe the number of COVID-19 pandemic committees set up by the state government since COVID-19 was belatedly declared as pandemic by the WHO. The State Disaster Management Authority(SDMA) set up the Advisory Committee on COVID-19 under the chairmanship of the chief minister. In addition there were district task force for COVID-19 under the respective Deputy Commissioners. Then the state government assigned ministers and advisers to be in-charge of districts to monitor the implementation of effective measures for containing COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The presence of several committees had only caused confusion due to overlapping in the chain of command. The measures against COVID-19 practically turned out to the daily photo ops by VVIPs visiting hospitals or proposed quarantine centres and assuring with confidence that Nagaland was ready to face the challenge. However subsequent reports in the media only indicated that the confidence was actually propelled by ad-hocism . Some hospitals were still struggling to present a facade of preparedness that was highlighted by lack of material and equipment while in various districts, there were shortage of doctors and assisting staff and also acute shortage of masks, surgical gloves, PPEs etc. Later after the ‘lighting’ purchases were made by the government, some doctors and health workers were incensed by the poor quality of the PPEs that exposed them to inherent threat from the dangerous virus. Probably sensing that things needed to be tightened a bit, the Governor of Nagaland summoned the top bureaucratic officials and emulating the response in states like Kerala which was largely successful in containing the virus; suggested forming a War Room on COVID-19. The War Room is headed by the chief secretary and comprised of senior civil and police officers. The War Room was to be fully engaged in day to day management and control of efforts to contain COVID-19 as well as travel plans, reception and accommodation of thousands of stranded persons returning back to Nagaland. As envisaged, the War Room was the apex command headquarter of the state on COVID-19 matters. The War Room has now been eclipsed by a super apex body formed on Monday by a decision of the state cabinet. The new super apex body – High Powered Committee- is headed by the chief minister and includes several ministers and advisers with the chief secretary as the member-secretary. As named such a high powered committee ordinarily pursues the objective of examining or sorting out an issue by members who are experts in the field or are well experienced. The point is whether the HPC has experts or those experienced in tackling COVID-19? It is not understood as to whether Nagaland needs another committee of bureaucrats and politicians on COVID-19 or does it deserve to have a body comprising of eminent scientists, epidemiologists and medical specialists whose valuable advice can help in tackling the spread of COVID-19? Be that as it may, the present situation also demands a proper understanding about COVID-19 which can survive for 37 days inside the body of an infected person. Only an expert body can advise the state on what should be the duration of quarantine and on monitoring of the virus. Having too many committees is a reflection of lack of prioritisation when what is needed is clarity and direction.  

 

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