WHO calls for early reconstruction of health systems says health of quake survivors at risk without regular services
Kathmandu / New Delhi, 25 June - Kathmandu / New Delhi, 25 June - Committed to build back equitable and resilient health systems in Nepal, World Health Organization today said the health of people who survived the killer earthquakes could be at risk if regular services were not rebuilt and restored on a priority. All partners need to work together towards an early recovery and reconstruction of Nepal’s health systems.
“We need to urgently restore regular health services for the millions of affected people – for the pregnant women, newborns, children, the aged, people with diseases such as TB, heart ailments, diabetes etc. Without critical services their health could be at serious risk", Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said in Kathmandu, at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction 2015.
Having lost their homes to the earthquake, displaced populations continue to live in temporary shelters with sub-optimal hygiene, sanitation and water conditions. They are vulnerable to diseases and health risks in the ongoing rainy season and the approaching winter. Many of the affected people - the injured, need long term care or rehabilitation. A large number of people need mental health care to cope with the trauma caused by the calamity.
WHO has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Population on the health sector response, which post-earthquake focused on trauma management and temporary reinstatement of the critical health services, and is now transitioning to early recovery and reconstruction.
In addition to strengthening surveillance and disease prevention initiatives, one of WHO’s key interventions for the ongoing monsoon season is the medical camp kits (MCKs), a set of water proof tents. The MCKs are being strategically located in the most affected districts to serve as temporary patient consultation and treatment facilities and to ensure continuity of services. "The MCKs will provide the critical buffer during which the recovery of health system must proceed", said Dr Khetrapal Singh.
With 80% of health facilities in the 14 most affected districts damaged, the task of reconstruction is huge but equally important. The Regional Director said long-term development and the scaling up of risk reduction and preparedness will be key features of WHO’s contribution in the recovery and reconstruction phase.
WHO will support with capacity building of national and district health staff on emergency preparedness; expanding the number and quality of disaster-resilient health facilities in the districts; improved interventions for structural, non-structural and functional capacities; replenishment of buffer stocks of prepositioned medicines; and medical kits and supplies and rapid response team kits, among others.
WHO has been supporting Nepal’s disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness initiatives. Major hospitals in Kathmandu, covered under these initiatives, withstood the earthquakes and continued to function with its trained staff demonstrating the importance of resilient health facilities in emergencies for saving lives.
The Regional Director said the international community’s collective will is necessary for reconstruction of Nepal’s health system. WHO stands committed to the cause, and will contribute its best to rebuild resilient and equitable health systems in Nepal.