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VIDEO: Surviving the Nepal earthquake, Ramesh's story
The USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance has committed $300,000 to Handicap International to provide rehabilitation to 1,500 injured Nepal earthquake survivors.
A Handicap International staff member stands with a Nepalese family after helping them to set up a weather resistant shelter. The organization recently provided 1,500 families with tents, blankets, and other essential items for survival. Photos: © Erica Bonnet Laverge/Handicap International
Handicap International is supporting beneficiaries in remote areas. Here, staff distribute non-food items and high-quality family tents to Bungtang, a village nearly 100 km north of Kathmandu. Photos: © Erica Bonnet Laverge/Handicap International
Remember Khembro, the little girl who broke her arm and had her left leg amputated as a result of injuries sustained during the earthquake? We're happy to report that she is feeling much better, and even a blew a kiss to Handicap International OT Pushpak Newar. She still has a long road to recovery, but our ever present staff is doing everything possible to ensure she will walk again. Photo: © Shane Basse/Handicap International
Sudan, a Handicap International physical therapist, treats a patient with a fractured femur at Bir hospital. © Phil Sheppard/Handicap International
- Our team in Nepal now includes 17 expatriates and 85 Nepalese staff.
- Our physical therapists are working with the injured in hospitals in Kathmandu, Bidur, and Trisuli. It is estimated that 17,000 people sustained injuries as a result of the earthquake.
- Staff are distributing 1,500 kits containing weather-proof tents and other essential non-food items in Nuwakot and Rassuwa districts.
- In partnership with the World Food Program, Handicap International is managing a storage base for humanitarian aid in Kathmandu and will set up another base Dhunche by the end of the week.
- A reception point for people with disabilities and injuries has been set up at Bir Hospital in Kathmandu. Discharged patients are registered at the reception point so that staff can follow up with them and provide them with rehabilitation and other assistance. Four mobile rehabilitation teams are traveling throughout Kathmandu Valley and in Dhulikhel.
- A hotline was created to allow people needing services to call Handicap International.
- Staff will implement psychosocial support programs to help people suffering from mental trauma due to the earthquake.
Latest figures from the United Nations
- People killed: 9,541
- People wounded: 17,838
- People affected: 8.1 million
- Destroyed homes: 160,785
- Partially damaged homes: 143,673
- Our physical therapists in Kathmandu and Bidur / Trisuli hospitals are taking care of the people injured in the 7.3 aftershock on May 12, in addition to the injured people they have been caring for since the April 25 disaster.
- Teams began distributing 1,500 emergency kits. These kits include high quality tents, which can provide families with decent emergency housing in times of heavy rains. This is important given that the rainy season begins in the next few weeks.
- In addition to Handicap International’s oversight of one of the two humanitarian aid storage centers in Kathmandu—in partnership with the World Food Programme—we are discussing the extent to which Handicap International will participate in the transportation of this humanitarian aid outside of Kathmandu and into the most isolated areas. This transportation will require heavy trucks, light vehicles and probably porters to carry the aid where no vehicle can reach. These operations could take place in Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts.
IN THE WORKS...
- Logistical capacity reinforcement: There are numerous logistical challenges to overcome. Some of the most affected populations are located in remote and scattered areas, the road network is limited and now also damaged from earthquakes, and the most affected districts are mountainous.
- Mobile teams: Once deployed, these teams will keep track of the people who leave the hospitals, and will soon try to go back to their homes. Following these people and assisting them throughout their recovery is essential to avoid the development of permanent disabilities that can appear after a period of immobilization, a surgery, or after sustaining injuries that did not receive the sufficient follow-up care. These teams will also work on the identification of people who have not yet been assisted and provide them with any care they need—both in terms of rehabilitation and basic needs.
- Psychosocial care: The earthquakes are causing a lot of stress for the people living in Nepal. Handicap International will set up psychosocial care activities targeting people who have been injured. These activities will also benefit those people who are at risk of developing psychological distress because of the earthquakes, as well as degraded living conditions caused by the loss of a house, or a major disruption of family and social structures.
- Handicap International Nepal now counts 80 Nepalese staff, and 18 expatriates.
- According to provisional estimates, Nepal has 17,000 injured, including those injured before the May 12 aftershock.
- As of May 12, Handicap International is managing, in partnership with the World Food Program, one of the two storage centers for humanitarian aid in Kathmandu.
Massive earthquake strikes Nepal at midday
- In addition to the earthquake and aftershocks, heavy rains are causing landslides, making transportation very difficult and hampering access to affected populations.
- Our teams in hard-hit Rasuwa and Nuwakot are tallying the local population's needs. Handicap international is on standby to send additional equipment, and to organize distributions as soon as roads are cleared.
- The districts of Sindhulpalchok and Dolkha are the worst affected. There are no orthopedic services there, and the injured people will probably be evacuated to Kathmandu.
- Handicap International is particularly worried by the situation in Kathmandu, as newly-wounded people arrive in hospitals that are already overflowing. It is likely that victims of the April 25th earthquake who were still recovering in hospital will be discharged in order to admit new patients. We will ensure that these people are followed-up, by registering them as they leave hospital and ensuring that they receive the help they need, particularly in terms of post-trauma emergency rehabilitation. This is vital to help them avoid long-term disabilities or other complications.
- For people injured by this recent earthquake, the coming hours will be dedicated to first aid and emergency surgery. Our teams in Kathmandu are ready to provide post-surgical care starting Wednesday morning.
- In the wake of the April 25th earthquake, we provided hospitals with mobility aids and equipment which can be used for the victims of the second earthquake.
- People are afraid to return home as aftershocks rattle the buildings. Handicap International plans to distribute basic needs kits and tents in areas around the hospitals.
HI BLOG: Nepal: Our Plan for the Months Ahead
Supporting the Emergency Rehabilitation Sector
Handicap International has had to deploy additional staff to oversee professionals already working in the field in order to ensure they provide adequate emergency rehabilitation care to the injured. People who suffer from crushing injuries, fractures, and spinal cord trauma caused by collapsing buildings need specific care. Our physical therapists and occupational therapists aim to provide post-operative care and take over where surgeons leave off by providing the injured with follow-up care to limit the development of disabling conditions.
More than 65% of Injuries are Fractures
Assessments conducted by Handicap International’s teams in four large Kathmandu hospitals (Baktapur, Bir, Patan and Tuth), reveal that of the people we treated, more than 65% of injuries involve fractures and 12% are spinal cord injuries. We also observed an increase in the number of amputations.
Expanding the Emergency Response
We are expanding our emergency response beyond Kathmandu and are now caring for injured people near the epicenter of the quake. We’ve set camp in the town of Trisuli, where many people with broken and amputated limbs were brought for emergency surgery. We’re currently providing about 100 people who are recovering from surgery with physical therapy and assistive devices like crutches and wheelchairs.
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Sunil, a Handicap International physical therapist, arrived at the hospital two hours after the earthquake struck. He's been back every day since. Here he is earlier today.
Latest figures from the United Nations:
- Number of people killed: 6,250
- Number of wounded: 14,357
- Number of people affected: 8.1 million
Care for the Injured
Today, Handicap International continued to provide support to hospitals in Nepal—referring the injured to adapted services, providing care, and distributing wheelchairs and crutches. After receiving an initial batch of equipment on Wednesday morning, the team has also begun identifying intervention areas outside of Kathmandu and is preparing to roll out its expanded relief effort.
“Before beginning our operations in the rural areas we must first prepare the logistics side of things,” says Hélène Robin, the head of Handicap International’s emergency response for Nepal. “We must make sure our teams have enough supplies to last several days or weeks. They also need to be able to respond immediately to people’s needs, especially in areas where there has been no health support.”
Bringing Aid to Remote Areas
Handicap International will play a central role in the transport of equipment, humanitarian goods, and food stocks to earthquake-hit areas. Right now, moving goods is extremely difficult, because many roads have been damaged or blocked by debris, severely disrupting life in parts of the country.
The organization will provide storage areas, advance bases, and a fleet of trucks to transport hundreds or thousands of tons of humanitarian aid for other organizations present in Nepal.
Handicap International’s emergency teams have coordinated similar operations in Haiti, the Philippines, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Expanding Our Team
Given the scale of the disaster, Handicap International is planning to expand its emergency relief effort in the weeks ahead to include several dozen expatriates and hundreds of Nepalese More than 70 people are currently involved in our response, including 53 staff present in the field before the disaster.
Helping Survivors Cope with Invisible Injuries
Handicap International is already offering physiological support to the injured Kathmandu hospitals but we will also set up psychosocial support teams to identify those worst affected by invisible injuries. Staff will organize discussion groups where people can talk about their experiences, helping them to overcome their trauma and stress.
No One Left Behind
The needs of the most vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities, older people, and the sick must be taken into account. Handicap International’s inclusion technical unit is supporting and raising the awareness of humanitarian operators involved in the emergency relief effort. As a result, these vulnerable people are more likely to receive the care and aid they need.
Care for the Injured
Bérangère Gohy, a Belgian physical therapist working for Handicap International, describes the situation in Kathmandu: “We are currently working in four hospitals in Kathmandu, caring for the injured and distributing wheelchairs and crutches, and we are beginning to provide physical therapy, which people need as soon as possible after their operations. We’re also preparing to transport patients with the most serious injuries to specialist centers. My colleagues are also working actively to extend our operations to areas which are more difficult to access and where people’s needs are far from being met.”
Type of Injuries
“Our teams have reported different types of injuries to those we’ve seen in the Haiti, China, and Pakistan earthquakes,” says Eric Weerts, a Belgian emergency rehabilitation specialist working for Handicap International. “Construction practices have a lot to do with this: buildings in Nepal use a lot less reinforced concrete, which means much fewer people are suffering from crushed limbs that require amputations.”
Arrival of First Emergency Supplies
A humanitarian cargo plane containing some of the emergency supplies sent by Handicap International to Nepal arrived at Kathmandu airport on Tuesday morning. The organization’s logistics experts were ready to receive the tents, medical kits, and other supplies which will now be used as part of our operations in the areas closest to the earthquake’s epicenter.
Arrival of Second Support Team
After leaving Paris on Monday, the second support team sent by Handicap International to Nepal landed in Kathmandu on Thursday after being delayed in Abu Dhabi for 48 hours.
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