As the massive damage, tragic loss of life, and widespread injuries from today’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal comes into focus, Direct Relief has made an initial cash commitment of $50,000 for the immediate deployment of emergency medical response personnel and essential health commodities. Direct Relief has also made available its entire current medical supply inventory, valued at $100 million, for the response.
Upon learning of the devastating quake, Direct Relief contacted and offered assistance to several Nepal-based hospitals, delivery centers, midwifery programs, and other health-service delivery organizations, as well as partner organizations in India that are responding to the emergency. Included among them is Doctors for You, a highly regarded Indian organization deploying a medical team Monday local time.
“In Kathmandu Valley, hospitals are overcrowded, running out of room for storing dead bodies and also running short of emergency supplies,” the United Nations stated today in its situation report on the emergency. “There are reports that the hospital stocks are depleting/used up and there is a need for a government decision on bringing kits from the military.”
The UN report also noted most people are staying outside for fear of aftershocks.
As Direct Relief responds to the tragedy, it will do so in close collaboration with local groups and the government in Nepal, which have requested international assistance. Direct Relief will also continue to work with other international organizations involved in the emergency response.
The Need for Medical Resources
Direct Relief is working with many of the world’s leading healthcare companies, who have provided much of the inventory made available today. Direct Relief will continue to collaborate with these industry partners to provide additional resources as needed. This may include materials for bone fractures, wound-care supplies, antibiotics, oral rehydration solutions, antidiarrheals, vitamins and nutritional supplement–each of which proved critical following disasters including the 2005 quake in northern Pakistan, which claimed 80,000 lives, and the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Anticipating Logistical Challenges
In this effort, Direct Relief draws on its experience aiding in the aftermath of a 2008 quake in Kashmir. Like then, this crisis will be characterized by the hugely complex logistical challenge of responding to the unfolding emergency in both cities and remote mountainous rural villages. The emergency response will be centralized in severely affected urban centers, and decentralized in remote and inaccessible rural villages.
The emergency response in Nepal will be particularly complex given the high altitude and mountainous terrain, the landslide damage to road infrastructure, the lack of landing access for fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft in remote areas, the damage to communication lines, and the distances between affected communities.
Coordinating with Local Responders
Recognizing this complexity, Direct Relief has reached out to the local organizations best positioned to understand local needs and inform external assistance. Such groups include the following:
Direct Relief’s initial commitment of $50,000 is from its general funds, and not dependent on whether the organization receives contributions designated for this particular event. Moreover, consistent with the obligation to honor donors’ intentions, 100% of any and all contributions designated for Nepal by donors will be used exclusively for this purpose, not for the organization’s general support or other program activities.