Emergency and humanitarian action

Nepal’s first responders continue to be critical part of quake response

WHO/Joe Swan

When Nepal’s 25 April and 12 May earthquakes caused devastation, death and injury across the country, health care workers were placed under severe strain: as well as dealing with personal losses, their professional and volunteer obligations meant that they had little time to pause.

Nirmala Acharya, a Female Community Health Volunteer in Kavre District, just east of the Kathmandu valley, is a case in point. Despite the destruction of her house and the economic burden that the loss of her family’s goat caused, Acharya (pictured center) insisted on performing her civic duties in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

“I have gone to every village within the ward and talked to the mothers in the community regarding hygiene and sanitation, and have been explaining the importance of using boiled water. I have been going to all the households,” she says.

Despite the emergency phase having ended, Acharya will go on disseminating Ministry of Health and Population and WHO-approved messages within her community during the rainy season, when the risks of communicable disease outbreaks are most pronounced.

“I want to do social work and assist my community,” Acharya asserts.

Nepal' s first Responders continue to be a critical part of the MoHP and WHO-coordinated health care response, and remain frontline defenders of the health of their communities.