On April 25, 2015, shortly before noon local time, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, caused buildings to collapse, set off avalanches on Mount Everest and catapulted the entire region into chaos. The quake, the worst in 80 years, was centered about 50 miles from Kathmandu and could be felt as far away as New Delhi. Multiple aftershocks have been recorded throughout the region which hampered rescue operations and terrified survivors. The most powerful aftershock, a 7.3 magnitude quake more than two weeks after the initial disaster, added to the death and injury toll. The monsoon season then created even greater urgency as survivors sought shelter amidst damaged and ruined buildings.
More than 8,900 deaths were reported with thousands more injured. The U.N. estimated that the earthquake affected 8.1 million people — more than a fourth of Nepal’s population of 27.8 million — with over 2.8 million in need of humanitarian assistance. At least 880,000 were destroyed or damaged, leaving many people homeless. Over 1,100 medical facilities were severely or totally damaged in the most affected areas.
AmeriCares immediately launched a large-scale relief effort sending aid workers, medical teams, and emergency medicines and supplies to the disaster zone. In the initial days of the response, our focus was to support of the Government of Nepal and the Ministry of Health and Population in the delivery of life-saving medical services and supplies and the provision of direct care to earthquake survivors.
The first AmeriCares India team responded within 48 hours. Our India medical team immediately began treating hundreds of patients through temporary medical camps in Kathmandu and nearby heavily damaged communities, while other team members distributed much needed medicines and supplies to frontline health workers and coordinated relief efforts with inter-agency groups and government authorities.
Our emergency team also worked with international medical teams on the ground in Nepal helping earthquake survivors. The teams included a special surgical group from India performing more complex surgeries on badly injured survivors. One of our partners, NYC Medics, treated hundreds of survivors in hard-hit areas of Dhading District.
Ten days after the earthquake, AmeriCares airlifted close to $1 million in medicine and supplies to meet needs defined by Nepal’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. Within a month, AmeriCares had supplied more than $20 million in aid to meet survivors’ immediate and longer-term health needs. Our in-country team has established a long term presence in Nepal with an office and warehouse in Kathmandu, supporting recovery programs and coordinating distribution with partners.
Second Health Crisis
Beginning in late September 2015, tension along Nepal’s border with India prevented Nepal from importing fuel, medicine, and other critical supplies, resulting in severe shortages throughout the country. This was especially hard on earthquake-affected communities. AmeriCares responded by importing $1.2 million in critical supplies by air, and, working with the World Health Organization, filled urgent needs, helping hospitals and clinics in the public health system provide health services through this difficult time.
After the earthquake struck Nepal, AmeriCares set two response and recovery goals and we continue to focus our work around them.
Restore health and improve health services
- Provide medicine and supplies to frontline health workers. Soon after an initial airlift of 14 tons of critical medicine and supplies valued at close to $1 million, AmeriCares team established a warehouse in Kathmandu to safely store and effectively distribute aid. Multiple shipments followed that were distributed to 25 local and international partners.
- Deploy medical teams. Just two days after the earthquake, a medical and emergency response team from AmeriCares India office reached Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, with critical medicine for injured survivors. For the next few weeks, AmeriCares teams and other teams supported by AmeriCares established and ran medical camps treating hundreds of survivors.
- Improve health services. AmeriCares identified a need for long-term physical rehabilitation services for earthquake survivors who, once discharged from overcrowded hospitals, require comprehensive care to regain full functionality and return to their work and families in remote communities. In Sindhupalchok District, AmeriCares built and operates an injury and rehabilitation center for up to 20 patients, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration. The center provides round-the-clock nursing care and intensive daily physical therapy sessions so each patient can regain maximum functionality after a stay of four weeks. Patients also have access to psychosocial counseling. The facility has served hundreds of patients and their families. In addition, considering the need and request of the local community, service was extended to non-earthquake patients as well.
- Restore health systems and rebuild health facilities. Working with two local health partners and in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Population, AmeriCares is proceeding with plans to repair or rebuild 17 health facilities damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, including a new out-patient department and staff quarters at Dhading District Hospital. The restored facilities will serve a population of more than 140,000 people.
Provide mental health and psychosocial support
- Counseling for health workers: AmeriCares mental health experts provided counseling and training to more than 800 health care workers from three social service organizations and two hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley who, after living through the earthquake and treating survivors, were at risk for stress and trauma.
- Help for survivors. Collaborating with local groups who already work in the region, AmeriCares is bringing community-based psychosocial health programs to remote and isolated earthquake-affected communities. In a public space, trained performers act out the range of stress symptoms that can afflict earthquake survivors. The training adds to health workers’ knowledge of mental health and psychosocial issues, building local capacity that will help the community for years to come. The program will reach more than 1,000 communities and train more than 2,900 community health workers through June 2017. Over 370 performances thus far have reached an estimated audience of 121,720 community members in 6 districts.
An earthquake survivor in Nepal regains her health through a rehabilitation center built and operated by AmeriCares in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.
AmeriCares is rushing an emergency delivery of two tons of essential medicines for hospitals in Nepal running critically low on supplies due to the nation’s ongoing severe fuel shortages.
Stamford, Conn. – Dec. 16, 2015 – AmeriCares is rushing an emergency delivery of essential medicines for hospitals in Nepal running critically low on supplies due to the ongoing fuel crisis there.
AmeriCares is responding with emergency medical teams, coordinated relief efforts and shipments of medical aid to help survivors of the earthquakes that rocked Nepal, killing thousands and sending the region into chaos.