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AmeriCares is rushing an emergency delivery of essential medicines for hospitals in Nepal running critically low on supplies due to the nation’s ongoing severe fuel shortages. Two tons of medicine, including antibiotics, wound-care supplies, antifungal medication and anti-diarrheal treatments are on the way in response to an urgent appeal from the World Health Organization.
A continuing border crisis has sharply reduced fuel supplies in recent months to the point where it has become increasingly difficult to access food, medicine and other necessities in the land-locked country. UNICEF warns more than 3 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of death or disease this winter as a result of the deteriorating conditions. Last week, a coalition of UN agencies and other organizations working in Nepal issued a statement calling attention to severe shortages at health care facilities, saying the crisis is affecting care for pregnant women, children, earthquake survivors and other vulnerable patients. Many of the health facilities AmeriCares is supporting through its earthquake recovery program have reported suppliers have halted deliveries—a major problem in a country that imports most of its medicine.
AmeriCares first emergency shipment in response to the fuel crisis, which includes enough basic medicine to support a population of 40,000 people for three months, departed Amsterdam for Kathmandu on December 16. The shipment includes 6,500 courses of antibiotics donated by GSK. AmeriCares is also supplying oral rehydration salts to treat patients suffering from diarrheal diseases. The WHO working through the Ministry of Health will manage the distribution of the medicine to health facilities throughout the country. Additional shipments are planned.
“With 1,200 health facilities damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, Nepal’s health system was already struggling. Hospitals will have no choice but to curtail services if the fuel crisis continues,” said AmeriCares Nepal Country Director Riaz Khalil. “We are working nonstop to help alleviate supply shortages and ensure earthquake survivors can receive care.”
An AmeriCares emergency response team was on the ground in Nepal within 48 hours of the April 25 earthquake, working to restore critical health services. To date, AmeriCares has deployed emergency medical teams to treat survivors, delivered more than $21 million in urgently needed medicines and relief supplies and supported health care services in affected regions. Counseling services are also being provided counseling to health workers in earthquake-affected areas and working with local partners to rebuild health facilities destroyed by the disaster. AmeriCares opened an office and warehouse in Kathmandu to oversee its earthquake recovery programs through 2018