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Assessing the Ground Crossing Points of Nepal and Their Compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005) to Prepare and Inform the Public Health Response to COVID-19

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Executive Summary

Since early 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had enormous repercussions on global health and safety. Its impact on the socioeconomic and political landscape has been unprecedented. Nepal declared its first nationwide lockdown in March 2020 when the second case of COVID-19 was confirmed. Although the lockdown managed to suppress the spread of the virus, its implementation—which consisted of a range of public health and social measures—in many cases also exacerbated underlying socioeconomic challenges, and impacted people's mental health, education, and livelihoods.

Under these circumstances, this study revolves around 20 ground crossing points (GCPs; used interchangeably with “Points of Entry” or “PoE”) identified by the Government of Nepal to facilitate cross-border movement, and their compliance with International Health Regulation (IHR) 2005 components. Nepal has a porous border with India, which puts travelers at higher risk of contagious diseases and also endangers the population from cross-border communities. Considering the importance of global health safety and security, the IHR (2005) developed an interim guidance that provides advice to countries on the measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 that result from the connections that they share beyond the economic realm.

This study aimed to assess the status of IHR (2005) core capacity requirements at the designated ground crossings in Nepal in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Quantitative assessment was carried out at PoEs after preliminary assessment of 11 GCPs conducted by IOM jointly with the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD), Ministry of Health and Population, Government of Nepal. A total of 17 field researchers were mobilized for data collection at these GCPs from 11-14 December 2020. A theme-based structured questionnaire and observation checklist was designed based on the core capacities of the IHR (2005). The researchers were trained virtually on the tools and were acquainted on the study’s purpose and objective. Verbal and written consent were taken prior to the interviews as well as for site observation. Next, the collected data was entered into the SPSS software, and was followed by a data cleaning process and analysis to generate the descriptive statistics on study variables.

This report is largely based on face-to-face interviews and captures the views of 75 government authorities from various departments holding different positions in 20 GCPs. The following key findings were identified through the interviews and GCP visits.