Since 29 April, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams in Nepal have started reaching people, spread across isolated mountain villages, by helicopter and on foot. The districts of Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchowk were hit hard on 25 April by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and little or no assistance has reached many villages.
While the most critically injured people were evacuated in the days immediately after the earthquake, those remaining have been trapped in their villages as roads and walking tracks have been cut off by avalanches and landslides. MSF medical teams are flying by helicopter to assess the needs and provide assistance in these remote villages. From 29 April to 4 May, MSF’s medical teams saw people in more than 15 villages.
On 3 May, an MSF team also set up a temporary clinic in the area of Chhapchet, in Dhading district, and began providing basic healthcare and minor surgical interventions. The team will work to spread the word in the surrounding villages that people can now come to the clinic to receive care. On 4 May, another team landed in Lapubesi in Gorkha district, and will stay for three days to provide medical assistance in the area.
“We are seeing people in need of basic healthcare, as well as a number of people with wounds sustained in the earthquake that have now become infected,” says Anne Kluijtmans, an MSF nurse. “We are cleaning and dressing wounds, as well as distributing antibiotics and pain medication. We have also treated cases of pneumonia, including among children.”
Food, shelter and mental health needs
With many villages completely or partially destroyed, the most significant need is for shelter, while some of the more isolated villages in the mountains are facing shortages of food. MSF teams have started distributing high energy biscuits and blankets in Kyanjin Gumba in Rasuwa district, and in Nampa Golche in Sindhupalchowk district. They have also provided more than 500 shelter kits in Gorkha district.
Our teams are continuing to look into effective ways to transport both food and shelter materials into the mountains, where temperatures at the higher altitudes are dropping below zero at night.