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Fractures, spinal injuries, amputations... the needs of earthquake victims in Nepal are huge


When the earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April, Handicap International immediately mobilised teams to help injured people and distribute medical supplies. In the following hours and days, hospitals were filled by people with fractures, spinal cord injuries and head injuries, many of which were caused by collapsing buildings or falling debris.

Norredine Zenati supervising the loading of emergency stock to be sent to Nepal to support our emergency response.

Norredine Zenati supervising the loading of emergency stock to be sent to Nepal to support our emergency response. | © Brice Blondel / Handicap International

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Meeting the needs of injured people

The World Health Organisation has said that there are simply not enough people trained in post-trauma rehabilitation to meet the huge needs of injured people. Handicap International is taking action to meet these needs and has deployed specialist staff.

Sarah Blin, Handicap International’s Director in Nepal explains: “We’re working in four large hospitals in Kathmandu Valley and making sure that people leaving these hospitals get the care and equipment they need. We’re particularly keen to ensure that people with spinal injuries are not neglected.”

In the week that followed the earthquake, 65% of the people needing support from Handicap International teams had suffered fractures and 12% had sustained spinal injuries. Our teams also noted an increase in the number of people with amputations after the first few days, but so far this remains in line with other natural disasters. Immediate and long-term rehabilitation care will be vital for all those with serious injuries.

Handicap International’s team in Nepal have been joined by additional rehabilitation specialists and we have teams working in four hospitals in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Baktapur districts. We have already supported the care of 400 people, and distributed walking aids, wheelchairs and other equipment for people leaving hospital.

As well as distributing equipment and providing care to injured people in Nuwakot hospital, we are also helping to assess the needs of injured people who, on leaving hospital, do not always know how to reach their families, and find themselves destitute and living in makeshift shelters.

A plan to meet people’s needs in the short and long-term

Over the next week our teams will be distributing 500 “essential needs” kits to families that lost all their belongings in the earthquake. The kits include sheets, covers, cooking equipment and hygiene kits. Another 500 kits are on the way from our logistics base in Dubai.

In the next four months, we plan to provide rehabilitation care to at least 1,500 injured people and train 1,200 of their friends and relatives to help care for them. Such support can make a huge difference to people recovering from injuries. We will also provide equipment to ten health centres and train local staff so they can provide better care to the injured people they see.

Seven thousand highly vulnerable people (sick, elderly or disabled) will benefit from protection actions, including identification, needs assessments and referral to appropriate services. Handicap International’s teams will travel to villages, some extremely isolated, to identify the most vulnerable people, assess their situation, family environment and health, and direct them to a hospital, health centre or humanitarian organisation able to supply them with food. The aim is to provide vulnerable people with the aid they need.

A special team will also be set up to raise awareness and train staff at other NGOs on how to support people with disabilities and other vulnerable people.

Lastly, in coordination with the World Food Programme, Handicap International is planning to set up a large logistics platform with two regional bases. The platform will enable us to manage the storage, transport and distribution of equipment or food for other NGOs and UN agencies. The logistics platform will also be equipped with lorries and storage spaces, allowing organisations to effectively share resources.

Date published: 19/05/15


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