The April 25th earthquake destroyed almost 90% of Nepal’s health facilities across 14 districts. As of 11 May 2015, 26 hospitals were damaged and more than 900 village health facilities outside Kathmandu Valley rendered non- functional. Keeping in mind the percentage of damages and the number of people injured, there is an immediate need to restore primary health care services and provide rehabilitation support to discharged patients.
Women and Children among the most affected
UNFPA estimates that of the 2 million women of reproductive age affected by the disaster, 126,000 pregnant women were in urgent need of health services. A lot of compromises have been seen in terms of access to reproductive health services. Medical supplies are severely depleted which has also affected the proportion of safe deliveries.
Response from Nepal Health Sector
There has been a lot of effort from local health service organizations as well as international medical teams. The government classified international medical teams into three categories: Type 1, 2 and 3. Type 1 for basic health services, Type 2 for more intensive hospital care and Type 3 for best equipped teams, who can provide continued care for at least a couple of months.
The survivors’fear of health
Survivors faced threat of a disease outbreaks due to severe shortages of clean water and toilets. With many people living out in open spaces, there is an increased risk of diseases spreading, as well as the speed at which they spread. Diarrhea, respiratory diseases and measles outbreak are some of the main concerns for health experts in the aftermath of the earthquake. Safe sanitation systems are therefore essential.
Practice of retrofitting
Hospitals still standing and functioning in the capital city is a result of the practice of hospital retrofitting that the World Health Organization assisted Nepal with over the past 15 years. Retrofitting is a process which involves repairing cracks in walls, to installing seismic belts and roof bracing. This process also involves promoting technical and material support. However, working on this process by capacity building and staff training is now equally important.
Psychological consequences of the earthquake
Trauma is common for all natural disaster survivors, who often worry whether they will ever be safe again. Survivors have reported a constant feeling of anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and flashbacks. Many traumatized children remain quiet. Save the Children has set up a series of child friendly spaces that allow kids to work through their own fear or just play a game. There have also been many organizations and individual counselors from different countries that have come in to help people undergoing trauma.
The Nepal earthquake left over 9,000 people dead and over 25,000 injured. With health and medical infrastructure still relatively unsteady, the recovery and rebuilding costs of the earthquake is expected to be high. Tremendous investment will be required for repairing damaged structures, and building new structures on the ones that have been destroyed. This requires agencies to work on war footing and help in restoring services. Nepal has been lucky in the sense that no major epidemic broke out, and international teams have helped tremendously in the immediate treatment of victims. More investments will be required in areas of mental health and rehabilitation of people with major injuries.