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Civil Society Network calls for inclusive policies in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Islamabad: Majority of COVID-19 patients who visited hospitals for check-ups complained that health professionals did not conduct proper check-ups. It was revealed during a survey conducted by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) under the project “CSOs engagement for effective COVID-19 Response”,with the financial support of Common Wealth Foundation. CPDI have carried out this research study to assess the government policies and their implementation in response to COVID-19 pandemic. The main focused areas of the research study are health, economy, education and social impact.

The data obtained through surveys, FGDs and interviews shows following trends across sectors under the study. In the health sector, a sharp increase in the medical expenses was observed during the pandemic. The policy of social distancing badly affected the well-being of the elderly. The research findings show that the majority of the women had to face difficulties in accessing medical care because of delay in check-ups and admission processes due to the pandemic. A significant number of persons with disabilities had to face difficulties in accessing proper medical care.

Likewise, majority of the students had to suffer the loss of learning due to the closure of educational institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those hit hard by the closure of educational institutions were students, mostly from the less affluent backgrounds who did not have adequate access to electronic devices and internet. For majority of the people educational expenses increased manifold.

Similarly, a large number of people had to get loans or had to sell their assets or had to utilize their savings to sustain the shock to their livelihoods. For a vast majority, employment opportunities decreased drastically due to the pandemic and lockdowns. It was observed that majority of the people had to put up with a sharp decline in their incomes. Income of many families dropped significantly due to pandemic and lockdowns. Marginalized sections of society including members of minority communities and transgender activists had to bear the brunt. Elderly persons were badly affected due to the decline in income. The job market was significantly squeezed.

Following the research, CPDI formed a network of CSOs and held consultative session with the network to share the findings of the research and get their feedback for resolving the issues identified in the study while simultaneously bridge the gaps in devising policies and their effective implementation.

CSO Network on COVID-19 Response demanded, government must adopt a participatory approach in making policies, it should engage different segments of the society for making inclusive and wide-ranging policies to better cope with the crisis of the pandemic. Furthermore, such approach on one hand ensures the feasibility of the policies while on the other hand redress the issues of the marginalized and neglected segments of the societies like, women, transgender, persons with disabilities, elders, and poor communities.

In the next phase of the project, the CSO network will hold consultation with the policy makers in order to apprise them of their concerns and the issues faced by the marginalized and neglected communities in the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Such approach will make the policies inclusive and beneficial for a larger part of the population.

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