Healthcare providers are gearing up to bring aid to Nepal, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake has left thousands of people injured and homeless.
The quake, which struck this past Saturday, is estimated to have killed over 5,000 people, injured more than 10,000 and left many others homeless. Healthcare organizations and governments across the world have responded by sending medical and humanitarian aid to the devastated South Asian country.
The International Organization for Migration said Wednesday that it was working with the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to mount large-scale distributions of assistance on behalf of its members. Nepal has been a member of the organization since 2006.
“Without immediate access to clean drinking water, shelter and healthcare, people living in open areas are extremely vulnerable,” Maurizio Busatti, Nepal chief of mission for the International Organization for Migration, said in a statement. “Our priority right now is identifying the areas that are most in need and mobilizing assistance there as quickly as possible.”
Three flights carrying over 3,000 emergency shelter kits, as well as solar lanterns and plastic sheets, will arrive in Kathmandu, the country's capital, on Thursday, the International Organization for Migration said. The kits were donated to the organization by the United Kingdom's International Development Department, and the International Organization for Migration expects to distribute more from its own stock as well as supplies from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Scripps Health, a four-hospital system in San Diego, is deploying its own medical response team at the request of the International Medical Corps, according to an e-mail to staff from CEO Chris Van Gorder. The IMC, a Los Angeles-based not-for-profit, has several teams on the ground in Nepal and will be operating mobile medical units to support damaged or destroyed hospitals.
The Scripps Health team is expected to leave for Nepal on Thursday or Friday for a roughly 21-day mission and is expected to be followed by a second team, Van Gorder wrote. The first team will consist of at least 15 employees, including nurses, physicians and support staff, many of whom were sent to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
HCA, the nation's largest hospital chain by revenue, announced that it will donate up to $1 million to support relief efforts, including $250,000 to Doctors Without Borders and $250,000 to MedShare International, a Decatur, Ga.-based not-for-profit that redistributes surplus supplies and equipment to those in need. HCA said it would match up to $500,000 of donations made to the American Red Cross by its employees and vendors.
Doctors Without Borders is sending several teams to Nepal, including a surgical team from Brussels and other teams from India, Japan and the Netherlands. The American Red Cross has committed an initial $300,000 to the relief effort and has offered 19,000 nonfood relief kits and 1,200 tarps for shelter, as well as disaster specialists who will help provide logistical support.
The RN Response Network, a disaster-relief project of the National Nurses United union and the California Nurses Foundation, said it is assessing how it may be able to help without adding to the burden of the recovery effort. The group sent nurses to help victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Superstorm Sandy and the Haiti earthquake, among other disasters.