SOPs Compliance among Public a Major Concern: Not Fully Enforced Even in 25% of the Health Facilities Observed

  • Citing limited health system capacity, FAFEN argues for enforcement of stricter SOPs as the only option

ISLAMABAD, January 20, 2022: Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) releases its pandemic governance monitoring report for the period of December 2021 to January 2022, wherein it highlights with concern, the widespread patterns of noncompliance of the SOPs among the general public and lays an emphasis on ensuring the adherence to the safety measures in the wake of the surging omicron-driven fifth wave of COVID-19.

According to the report as the number of cases started to plummet in the last quarter of the year 2021, the level of seriousness towards SOP compliance also decreased. A common pattern of non-compliance was observed for the general public with 50 percent of the respondents reporting SOP compliance was limited to only some amongst the public and a further 36 percent stated a few are complying with the SOPs. The report notes with concern, the rapid increase in the number of positive cases that have spiked from 348 on December 21, 2021, to over four thousand on January 16, 2022.

Challenged by the fifth wave, the pandemic management capacity as ascertained by the private and public testing facilities across Pakistan reflects an under-equipped health care system that will struggle to cope with increase in hospitalization—a trend observed in some parts of the world. In total, in the 69 districts observed, there are 94 quarantine facilities with a total capacity of 6,430 patients and 266 isolation wards set up in public health facilities with a total capacity of 2,902 patients. As many as 1,204 doctors have been assigned to these observed facilities. In the public sector health facilities, the number of ventilators available was reported at 170 while in private sector health facilities, the number of ventilators was at 228.

As per the data collected from the EDOs-health of the observed districts, there is an uneven distribution of resources amongst these districts. The number of patients per ventilator and patients per bed are the highest in Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 19,792 and 3,299, respectively. The second-highest number of patients per ventilator was assessed for District Chiniot of Punjab province at 2,834 and the second-highest number of patients per doctor was recorded in Naushero Feroze District of Sindh province to be at 1,627. As the numbers reflect, any significant increase in patients requiring hospitalizations and/or ventilator beds will quickly overwhelm the healthcare system.

As for the availability of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and expertise of the doctors and staff the situation was reported positively. Nonetheless, the report does highlight the areas of improvement suggesting that despite 88 percent of the doctors reporting to have the required skills for pandemic management, there were a few who expressed the need for further training in this regard. Whereas, 63 percent of the doctors and staff members interviewed reported having a sufficient supply of PPE, while another 37 percent stated it to be insufficient.

Based on the assessment, FAFEN calls for reinstating some of the measures that have previously worked in slowing down the spread of the infection, including, stringent compliance of SOPs in offices, educational institutions, and other public spaces, as well as reduced attendance in offices providing necessary services. FAFEN also urges the policymakers to impose restrictions on public gatherings such as weddings and cinema halls as well as the imposition of smart lockdowns in areas where there is widespread outbreak. These measures will at least slow down the spread of the infection to help avoid the weak healthcare system from getting overwhelmed.


Urdu Press Release FAFEN URDU PR and Pandemic Governance Monitoring Report COVID-19 Response and Relief- Governance Monitoring Report – Dec21-Jan22