MoHP to present rehabilitation plan

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

May 20, 2015-

Three weeks after the Great Earthquake rattled the country, killing over 8,500 people and injuring thousands, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has begun identifying places for rehabilitating people with serious injuries who need periodic follow-ups.

According to Handicap International, an international non-governmental organisation working on disabilities, over 30 percent of the injured people need permanent rehabilitation; furthermore, 60 percent of the injured have wounds that might not heal, which if not treated could result in disabilities too. The data from Handicap International—collated from a random survey done among 600 injured people in the Trauma Centre, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Patan Hospital and Bhaktapur Hospital—shows that 30 percent of the people had suffered head and spinal injuries or had to have their limbs amputated. The report adds 60 percent of the patients stare at permanent disability due to infections and failure to get follow-up treatment.

The World Health Organisation also estimates that 12 percent of the injured might have sustained spinal injuries and would need life-long rehabilitation.

The MoHP has been so far able to assign over 500 beds where the injured can be rehabilitated: at the National Ayurveda Research and Training Centre in Kirtipur, Anandaban Hospital, Lalitpur, Green Pasture Leprosy Hospital, Pokhara, the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre, Sanga, and Nepal Orthopaedic Hospital, Jorpati, among others.

The MoHP is also reaching out to various international communities for help with short-term rehabilitation.  It is also establishing step-down centres in the most-affected districts, including Gorkha, Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot.

The NARTC plans to accommodate 100 people while the SIRC is planning to rehabilitate 200 people, among whom 110 people are already availing of the services offered by the centre. And Anandaban Hospital is planning to tend to 50 patients while a similar number of patients will be accommodated by the Jorpati-based Orthopaedic Hospital. Similarly, Green Pasture is preparing beds for 80 rehab patients.

Experts say three-phase planning—short, middle and long term—is essential to ensure proper rehabilitation procedures. The short-term plan would incorporate providing immediate medical attention for those with serious injuries and helping them come to the hospitals for routine follow-ups.

“In the short term, we will help people discharged from the hospitals to receive the right care for their injuries and cope with psychosocial stress. This involves physiotherapy and counselling,” said Sarah Blin, Country Director of Handicap International Nepal. In the long term, said Blin, a proper institutional set-up is needed, whereby as much resource as is needed can be provided to help care for disaster victims.

Dr Basu Dev Pandey, who is coordinating the MoHP’s rehabilitation efforts, said that a strategic rehabilitation plan will be presented to the Ministry of Finance by Friday. He said that since figuring out ways to finance the rehabilitation plan was of utmost importance, they had been asked to present their plan as soon as possible. “We have been asked by various organisations to grant permission for rehabilitation work. This is a positive sign because the government alone cannot perform this task,” said Dr Pandey.

The rehabilitation process will see physiotherapists, occupational therapists, orthotic and prosthetic experts and nurses playing vital roles. The Nepal Physiotherapy Association (NEPTA) estimates that there are around 900 physiotherapists in the country, among whom 13 people are employed by the government; but the country has only 10 occupational therapists. Nischal Shakya, president of NEPTA, said that because the country was lacking both devices needed to rehabilitate patients and specialised human resources, help will need to come in from abroad.

Published: 21-05-2015 08:36

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