Widespread flooding in India and Nepal has displaced millions; Direct Relief is sending more than $1 million in medical material aid to help vulnerable populations living in temporary shelters.
The shipments of critical aid—antibiotics, analgesics, wound-care supplies, and more— are being delivered to two longtime Direct Relief partners who have effectively responded to previous emergencies, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The delivery for Nepal was air freighted on September 18, and the India delivery is schedule to depart later this week.
Family Health International in Nepal, which supports 40 local organizations to provide reproductive health services, shifts its focus to relief work when an emergency strikes.
Southern India-based Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) has sent its state-of-the-art telemedicine van all the way to Bihar in the north where the bulk of relief camps are located. The telemedicine van works as a sophisticated mobile medical clinic and is outfitted with diagnostic equipment and satellite connection linked to medical experts, which makes it an invaluable resource for remote populations who wouldn’t otherwise have access to quality medical care.
The AIMS team reports that its teams working in relief camps are seeing about 500 patients a day. With its mobile unit, it plans to move deeper into affected areas as soon as the waters recede. It also plans to set up a small hospital in Bihar to provide medical services to flood-affected people over the next few months.
About 1 million people are still displaced and 300,000 are living in crowded shelters, where sanitation is compromised. Clean drinking water is scarce, and damp conditions put evacuees at high risk for waterborne diseases. Acute diarrhea can be fatal if not treated, especially among vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women. Other health concerns include upper respiratory infections, helimenthic infections, viral fevers, and malnourishment leading to severe anemia.
After a dam on the Koshi River broke August 18, floodwaters submerged villages, destroying many thousands of homes and 250,000 acres of farmland in Bihar. The annual summer monsoon season, which runs from June to early September, only added to the deluge.