The race to restore primary healthcare services disrupted by Nepal’s April 25 and May 12 earthquakes is on with the deployment of 50 medical camp kits (MCKs) throughout the country’s 14 most-affected districts. The MCKs, which will be deployed in the next week by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and World Food Program (WFP), will be a critical step to ensure that basic health services are restored in outlying areas before the onset of the monsoons in June.
As a result of the earthquakes, 484 public health facilities were completely damaged, while 474 were partially damaged. The MCKs will have provisions for male and female wards, as well as staff and consultation rooms. They will be solar-powered, and will have water and sanitation kits as well as facilities and supplies necessary to ensure reproductive health. UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and the International Medical Corps have contributed essential supplies to the kits.
Dr. Frank Paulin, acting WHO representative in Nepal, says that the deployment of foreign medical teams in the aftermath of the disaster has been effective in filling gaps in services, though the need to reestablish normalcy, increase access to health care services and begin the task of rebuilding is imperative.
“The MCKs will ensure continuity of care during the rainy season as there is no time to build permanent structures. The Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs) have done a wonderful job but there are only a few FMTs in each district, which means that the majority of health posts are nonfunctional and patients must travel long distances to reach facilities,” he says. “The MCKs will therefore improve availability and accessibility of health care.”
According to Paulin, the MCKs will be strategically situated so as to ensure health care needs of affected populations are met. “The decision on where to establish the MCKs is based on qualitative and quantitative evidence. We are combining an evidence-based approach with the realities of the communities involved and their post-quake situations,” he said.
Michel Tomaszek, WHO’s chief in-country logistician, says that the MCKs were developed in consultation with District Health Offices, and are tailored to the precise needs of affected areas and populations. “We have developed these kits from previous relief operations, and with our partners have tailored them to the specific health care needs of the country. We will be able to set them up quickly and soon they will provide both outpatient and inpatient facilities,” he says, adding, “We have to be sure that they have the equipment, supplies and facilities to provide the services they need.”
According to Tomaszek, the MCKs are robust enough to see out the monsoon, allowing permanent health facilities to be restored. “These camps have been designed with the rainy season in mind, and they will be in use until at least the end of monsoon. This will provide time to rebuild damaged facilities,” he says.
Prior to the MCKs being deployed, WFP engineers have been assessing suitable grounds on which the camps can be set up, ensuring that the MCKs are situated in safe, secure locations. Rehman Ullah, a civil engineer at WFP, says that extensive technical consideration has gone into positioning the MCKs.
“Our main concern is that the land is clear, and that in the case of rain they will not be flooded. People also need to have easy access to the facilities,” he says, adding that all efforts will be made to ensure that the MCKs are situated in areas that are not in danger of landslides.
As Nepal’s post-disaster response moves from emergency relief to the wider task of restoring and rebuilding the healt care system, the deployment of MCKs to hardest-hit areas will be an important move in restoring the provision of services and an essential part of the ongoing relief operation.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)