Extreme Weather

Medical Aid En Route as Deadly Flooding Continues in South Asia

Medical aid bound for Dhulikhel Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, as the hospital's emergency response team works to reach patients in flood-impacted communities.

Shipments bound for Dhulikhel Hospital in Nepal leave Direct Relief's warehouse on July 19, 2019, containing medical aid for flooded communities in the region. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)
Shipments bound for Dhulikhel Hospital in Nepal leave Direct Relief's warehouse on July 19, 2019, containing medical aid for flooded communities in the region. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

In the midst of continued flooding in South Asia, shipments of requested medical aid departed Direct Relief’s warehouse Friday, bound for Nepal, while additional aid across the region moves forward. More than 6 million people have been impacted by the flooding across Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, and the flooding and resulting landslides have killed over 230 people and injured thousands.

Requested medical aid is now en route to Dhulikhel Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the hospital’s emergency response teams have been working to reach flood-impacted communities in southern Nepal. Medical aid shipped to the group includes oral rehydration salts, personal protective equipment for health workers, hygiene items, medical tents and wound care items

While this storm system has started to dissipate, the region is still threatened by a monsoon season that runs through September.

As Waters Rise, Health Concerns Follow

Flood-related disasters often precipitate a host of health issues, including water- and vector-borne diseases. Cholera and typhoid can arise if sanitation and water delivery systems are damaged or destroyed, and mosquitoes can multiply in standing water, leading to a proliferation of malaria and dengue.

When people are evacuated from their homes and communities, unsanitary or crowded conditions in the places where they’ve been relocated can lead to rapid transmission of communicable diseases. Evacuated people may also lack access to medications needed to manage chronic conditions, which can cause them to spiral into a medical emergency.

Responding Across South Asia

In response to an influx of requests from our extensive partner network throughout the affected regions, Direct Relief has mobilized emergency medical donations and cash support throughout the region.

In Nepal, flood waters reached 30 of the nation’s 77 districts, including the capital, Kathmandu. While the monsoon rains were still falling, Dhulikhel Hospital in Kathmandu dispatched an emergency response team to southern Nepal. In support of their relief efforts Direct Relief built an 11-pallet donation of specifically requested flood relief supplies that shipped Friday.

Direct Relief is also supporting Mountain Heart Nepal’s response, which included sending assessment team to the flood affected region. Mountain Heart Nepal plans to conduct mobile medical camps with their team of volunteer doctors and nurses over the coming weeks. Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, Direct Relief purchased a 4×4 for Mountain Heart to safely transport their medical staff and supplies through remote and mountainous terrain. To equip the Mountain Heart Nepal medical camps, Direct Relief is dispatching an Emergency Health Kit, kept stocked at the organization’s warehouse for rapid deployment after a disaster. Each Emergency Health Kit contains over 200 essential medicines and medical supplies and is designed to treat 1,000 people for one month following a natural disaster.

Direct Relief also supported Mountain Heart Nepal during the 2017 Nepal Floods that killed over 800 people. Since the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, Direct Relief has been one of the largest providers of medical aid to the country, with more than $66 million in medical aid reaching local health providers.

Further south, the state of Assam in India has seen 4.3 million people affected by the floods, forcing over 85,000 to escape into densely packed displacement camps. In the last 12 months, Direct Relief has responded to two major disasters in India, the widespread flooding in Kerala and Cyclone Fani in northeastern India. Direct Relief was a major medical response actor during the floods in Kerala, dispatching 12 tons of medical aid to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Meenakshi Mission Hospital.

In Bangladesh, where recent storms killed 29 people, remains especially vulnerable during monsoon and cyclone season due to the Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar and now reside in camps in the flood-prone coastal district of Cox’s Bazar. Direct Relief’s long-time partner, the HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh, based in Cox’s Bazar, specializes in maternal and child healthcare, and has established a field hospital in one of the largest Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. HOPE was able to immediately respond to the flooded out Rohingya settlements with Direct Relief-supplied oral rehydration salts and other relief items.

Direct Relief will continue shipment of requested medical aid to for flood response in the coming days.

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