I can hardly believe it has been a month since the first big earthquake in Nepal on April 25th. It has been followed with many aftershocks per day plus another large one on May 12 resulting in over 8000 deaths and double that in casualties. Over 300,000 home have been damaged and particularly in the rural areas, people are still living in temporary tarp shelters. In the past few days there have been some wicked storms – very strong winds and horizontal rains …. and monsoon won’t arrive for another few weeks. It’s usually rice planting season and not much of that is happening these days, I worry about the impact of no rice harvest in a few months time. All I can say is, enough already – sigh.
The Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) continues to accept newly injured patients and the team continue to, after the initial assessment, care for their immediate medical needs as well as defining individualized 3-month rehabilitation programs for each patient.
- There are currently 135 patients receiving care at SIRC (38 existing patients injured prior to the earthquake plus 97 newly injured patients as a result of the earthquakes).
- There are an additional 46 patients with spinal injury in acute care/tertiary hospitals in Kathmandu that will be referred to SIRC imminently.
- That’s a total of 181 patients that SIRC has to care for – nearly four times what SIRC’s usual capacity.
- It is envisaged more people will present for rehabilitation from the outlying rural districts and central hills that have been most severely impacted by the earthquake.
Now more than ever, funding is needed and over the past 10 days or so, this has been the focus for Esha Thapa, SIRC’s Executive Director along with Stephen Muldoon, Assistant Director of International Complex Care Development, Livability International. Stephen (who is Irish, of course!) is assisting Esha in sourcing appropriate funds from the various aid agencies on the ground in Nepal. God speed as they navigate through the requirements needed to receive these urgently needed funds.
Stephen arrived at SIRC on may 11, and was there to witness the 2nd large earthquake on May 12. Listen to his interview with BBC’s Radio Foyle the following day.
Kudos to Nikita Kayastha for her tremendous work in pulling together the donation request package that has enabled Esha and Stephen to apply for this funding. You will remember Nikita did her MBA internship at SIRC while I worked there, I always knew she was a gem :-). Binay Shrestha, another MBA intern that I worked with last year, has been volunteering his time at SIRC whilst holding down a full-time job. Binay’s expertise is web communication and he is now focused on completing the SIRC website – which was being re-written just as the first earthquake and needed some additional work before launch.
Today is Dr Raju and Sheela’s last day at SIRC. Drs Anzil and Jas have already returned home – they all have work commitments in Dhaka. I am unsure how SIRC would have managed without them. The sheer numbers of new patients with various levels of acuity demanded the attention of a large medical team. With their departure, Dr Bishu, the House Officer at Dhulikhel Hospital will continue with the medical care of the patients until another doctor arrives from Thailand on June 1. It looks like a western doctor may be in a position to join SIRC from mid June for an extended period of time – fingers crossed that works out. In the meantime, Fiona Stephenson continues to coordinate volunteer requests from doctors, nurses, physios and occupational therapists with SCI experience.
May 20 saw a visit from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) delegation to SIRC. DfID’s Director General, Joy Hutcheon and her colleagues Mark Smith, Deputy Head of Mission in Nepal and Natasha Mesko, Health Advisor were all impressed with the services being provided to the earthquake survivors with spinal injury. Let’s hope the aid agencies who are providing the funding think the same!
You can read more on the UK Government’s Department for International Development here.
Continue to check out updates from Peter & Claire on their blog SpiNepal.