Nepal Update: 15 Days and Counting

It’s been just over 2 weeks since the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing over 8,000 people and injuring more than 17,000.

 

More than 10% (roughly 600,000) of the homes in Nepal were destroyed or damaged, and the economic impact of the earthquake will be felt for years – both in terms of recovery and rebuilding costs, and lost tourism dollars (or in this case, rupees), one of Nepal’s primary sources of income.

Add to these crippling numbers the fact that almost 90% of Nepal’s health facilities have been destroyed – in a country where the health and medical care infrastructure was shaky to begin with. On average Nepal spends USD $2.30 per person on healthcare annually, or 6% of its GDP. In the US we spend 17.1%.

Within days of the earthquake, Médecins du Monde (MdM) sent 15 tons of medical supplies and a 12-person emergency team that included doctors, surgeons and nurses to Nepal. Currently, we have 50 people on the ground, and the team now includes psychologists, as well as medical, surgical and logistical staff. We are working hard to treat those who were injured and to ensure that those who were not continue to have access to medical care during this critical recovery and rebuilding period.

We are concentrating our efforts in the remote Sindhupalchok region – one of the worst affected areas, and the district where we have been working for almost a decade to lower maternal and infant mortality rates. Transporting supplies on already treacherous roads further damaged by the earthquake is a significant logistical challenge, but we have set up on our first mobile unit near the village of Golche, where we are providing care to approximately 4,000 people from the village and surrounding areas. We will set up additional facilities throughout Sindhupalchok in order to meet the emergency and ongoing medical needs of as many Nepalis as possible.

In this effort, we have partnered with Solidarités International and Fondation EDF who are providing essential support to MdM logisticians in charge of equipment and the water supply – both of which are critical to the successful delivery of medical aid.

MdM has committed to an initial 3- to 6-month, USD $2.2M response to provide emergency and ongoing medical care for Nepal’s earthquake survivors, and to shore up the healthcare infrastructure that was all but destroyed by the 7.8 magnitude quake. In reality, we will be in Nepal for much longer. As Joel Weiler, MdM’s Emergency Director, sums it up, “Addressing the (direct) effects of the earthquake on the health system through the use of mobile facilities may take between three to six months. But restoring long-term access to healthcare requires rebuilding not only hospitals and the medical centers that have been destroyed, but also reviving the national health system. At each stage, Doctors of the World will maintain its commitment to the Nepali people.”

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