LONDON, May 3, 2015 /CNW/ - Doctors in Nepal have been witnessing horrific injuries, as well "crush syndrome", which happens when a limb has been compressed, and after the pressure is released the blood floods the kidneys with toxins, causing kidney and heart failure.
Hospitals are incapacitated, infrastructure has been decimated and thousands of people are sleeping on the streets. With monsoon season only weeks away, this is a catastrophe of the highest order.
Humanitarian organisation Doctors of the World has sent 20 tonnes of medical supplies and an emergency team of 12 doctors and surgeons to support survivors in Nepal. We have a 40-strong team already on the ground and another emergency team, including doctors and surgeons, who have recently arrived.
The charity has long-term maternal health programmes near Kathmandu and in more rural areas of Nepal, all of which are now mobilized to assist the thousands wounded as a result of the quake.
Hospital capacity, food access, hygiene and diseases are especially pressing health concerns, especially given mass homelessness after the earthquake, all of which will become worse when the rainy season sets in.
Executive Director of Doctors of the World UK Leigh Daynes said:
"We are at the very beginning of understanding the scale of this disaster as we begin to reach those in rural outlying areas. And access is still being hampered by blocked roads and damaged infrastructure.
"We are facing huge logistical difficulties. As well as roads being closed, aftershocks have prevented planes from landing at Katmandu airport. On the first day, our staff counted at least one aftershock every 20 minutes. The first days after a disaster are the most critical. It is in this time that we can work the most effectively on traumas, fractures and injuries sustained by those crushed by rubble.
"Nepal's health system was vulnerable before the earthquake, especially in rural areas. Now the healthcare system has completely collapsed, hospitals and other medical facilities are overrun and medics are in desperate need of support.
"A third of children were malnourished, there was only one doctor for every 5,000 people. Now it is a catastrophe. This is partly the result of the failure of the international community to invest in Nepal. Much like the Ebola crisis in West Africa, we failed to create a resilient health system that can cope with catastrophes like this.
"The challenge now will be the organization of relief. Relief organizations will all be arriving together, so we have to be organized. We must not make the same mistakes as we did with the Haiti quake where we all piled in but did not cooperate enough to be truly effective.
"We also need to give credit to the solidarity of the Nepalese, who were the first to respond and have worked tirelessly.
"Since hospitals are overwhelmed, we will continue to treat diseases that were common before the disaster: gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, fevers, and suchlike."
SOURCE Doctors of the World
For further information: For interviews with staff here in the UK and on the ground in Nepal contact: Nick Harvey, +44(0)207-1675789 or +44(0)7565-944042 (out of hours), [email protected]