International Aid Community Responds to Earthquake in Nepal

By Noha Zeitoun

Over the next two weeks Impact will post the top 12 global health moments of 2015 with commentary from experts. We want to hear your thoughts, too. So login and comment, share on social media and reflect on what has been a pretty interesting year for global health.

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal triggering powerful aftershocks, landslides and an avalanche on Mount Everest. The earthquake and its numerous aftershocks, including one measuring a magnitude 7.3 more than two weeks later, left more than 8,800 people dead and more than 23,000 injured. The quakes left an estimated 900,000 homes damaged or destroyed, leaving many in the country without shelter and clean water. With the threat of monsoon season quickly approaching, and many sleeping outside due to the fear of aftershocks, the need for quick and efficient aid was critical.

Within hours of the initial earthquake, the international community mobilized to provide emergency services to the people of Nepal. The United Nations requested approximately $422 million in aid assistance from the international community. Numerous governments and more than 300 humanitarian organizations implemented relief activities in Nepal. The UN reports that more than 2 million people received food assistance following the quake, and about 75% of households that were affected by the quake received shelter support.

The event affected more than 900 health facilities in the country, according to the World Food Programme, leaving many without access to health services. Once emergency aid was able to reach the country, international aid focused on providing temporary health centers and constructing new clinics. The UN Population Fund distributed an estimated 900 reproductive health kits to approximately 115,000 people in the most affected districts. Additionally the Government of Nepal Ministry of Health and Population partnered with the Reproductive Health Sub-Cluster of the UN Population Fund to deliver reproductive health care services to more than 61,000 people in affected areas.

With so many in makeshift shelters and sleeping in the open, the risk of human trafficking among the victims heightened. With women and children most at risk, both UNICEF and the USAID-funded Combating Trafficking Persons (CTIP) established and expanded screening and interception points along Nepal’s borders, conducted awareness activities and provided support to victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence.

The international response to the disaster highlights the importance of emergency preparedness and reaching those in the last mile.

The international response to the disaster highlights the importance of emergency preparedness and reaching those in the last mile. Eight months later, most of the damaged health facilities have resumed providing essential services; however delays in distribution of aid funds and issues in service delivery have impeded reconstruction efforts.

Photo Credit: David Ramos / Stringer
Caption: Nepalese villagers collect aid dropped by an Indian helicopter on May 6, 2015 in Gumda, Nepal. 

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