Road to recovery

  • Government should ensure regular medical follow-up and rehabilitation
Road to recovery

May 4, 2015-

The health sector has been badly hit by the Great Earthquake, and it will be months before many of the health facilities are up and running. A rapid assessment by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health and Population shows that the district hospitals and primary health centres in Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Ramechhap, Gorkha and Dhading have sustained severe damages, presenting a daunting task of providing medical services to the injured and the sick.

Overall, at least 90 percent of the health facilities outside the headquarters of the worst-affected districts have beendamaged.

While in the first few days after the earthquake, hospitals in the Valley and outside saw a huge surge in patients with severe head and limb injuries, it was later minor injuries and referral cases that are flooding the hospitals.

As time passes, the country will see an increase in patients suffering complications due to lack of timely medical intervention. For instance, in the case of a patient suffering from compound fractures, a delayed treatment may result in amputation or even death.

Among the estimated 14,000 people who suffered various injuries in the quake, approximately one in three (or around 4,700) will require regular follow-up and rehabilitation treatment, according to the WHO. Of this number, approximately 12 percent have sustained spinal injuries.

The government must thus come up with a two-pronged strategy to deal with the health crisis. One, in the Capital, it must now start preparing the hospitals to prepare for long-term care of those with spinal injuries and similar problems, and fortify the out-patient departments to handle the influx of patients presenting with minor injuries. Two, outside of the centre, the government must rapidly send over teams of doctors to work at makeshift hospitals.

If we cannot set up makeshift hospitals in the hinterlands, we must ensure that the emergency-care departments in the Capital’s hospitals can handle the large contingents of patients who will need to be flown in.

Post-disaster intervention is mostly about health-care management. In the early days after the Great Quake, the government’s coordination and management left a bad taste in many Nepalis’ mouths. In the coming days, it must ensure that health-care management doesn’t come up short as well.

Published: 05-05-2015 09:02

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