Handicap International sends emergency specialists to Nepal
Handicap International’s teams, already present and active on the ground in response to the disaster, will be joined from Monday by several emergency specialists, to evaluate and meet the immediate needs. The first aid distributions were already made on Saturday by the organisation, which is also providing care to injured people.
Handicap International staff working overnight to assemble wheelchairs that will be used to transfer patients at the Teaching Hospital in Nepal. | © Wesley Pryor / Handicap International
The situation has worsened considerably following the earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday 25th April. More than 2,000 people have been killed, and thousands more have been injured. Since this morning, hospitals are starting to receive injured people arriving from the most severely affected areas. Five districts of the country are very badly affected, and another earthquake hit Nepal on Sunday 26th April. At 6.7 on the Richter scale, it was strongly felt in the capital. The people who had returned home yesterday have had to leave again for security reasons and are now outside or in evacuation centres.
The situation is particularly problematic for people living in villages outside Kathmandu: the roads are blocked, communication is cut, it is hard to have information about the impact of the earthquake in these areas and it is hard to reach the affected populations with aid.
Markets are closed on Sundays so it is difficult to find food. The airport is open and cargo planes are planned to deliver food to both affected populations living in remote areas and people staying in evacuation centres.
Distributions of equipment
Handicap International has been one of the first NGOs to respond to the disaster. We intervened immediately to help the most vulnerable people in two main hospitals in the capital. The organisation is planning to provide post-trauma rehabilitation in these two hospitals, providing care to injured people (e.g. head injuries, open wounds) in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons. Handicap International is also providing medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and splints.
The organisation is going to deploy teams to support disabled and vulnerable people by setting up Disability and Vulnerability Focal Points (DVFP). Our teams will work within the hospitals to provide psychological support to patients, accompany them and make sure they are well-nourished for instance.
Our first priority is to look after injured people, to prevent injuries becoming long-term disabilities. When an earthquake strikes, multiple fractures and spinal cord injuries are very common due to buildings collapsing. Appropriate care must therefore be given quickly to prevent long-term consequences.
One of the organisation’s rehabilitation experts, already present in Nepal, has gone to Gorkha, the most affected of all the districts, at the epicentre of the earthquake, with members of International Medical Corps. They will jointly assess the needs to consider a potential intervention. Another expatriate staff has gone to Pokhara, west of Kathmandu to evaluate needs on the ground.
Handicap International is preparing to intervene in the informal camps and shelters where many people need equipment for the night such as blankets and tents, as well as cooking equipment.
More teams on their way
A first team, consisting of three experts in emergency response and logistics left from Lyon, France, on Sunday 26th April to reinforce the Handicap International team already on the ground. Their mission will be to evaluate the most urgent basic needs and the specific needs of vulnerable groups.
At the same time, Handicap International is sending out the necessary equipment to enable the work of its teams. Trunks containing tents, tarpaulins, and satellite phones are being sent to Nepal to enable our teams to work in complete autonomy in areas badly affected by the earthquake.
On Monday morning, Handicap International is sending a logistical kit from Lyon which contains everything needed to set up our operational base for the emergency response. Handicap International is also sending a DVFP kit with basic logistical and medical equipment, enabling our teams to provide care to earthquake victims.
A second emergency team will leave from Lyon on Monday 27th April, with an emergency coordinator and a logistician, who are both experienced in natural disaster contexts. Two further departures are already planned for Wednesday to increase our capacity on the ground.