The earthquake that hit Nepal on Apr. 25th
has been a grim reminder of the human fragility against the power of recurring natural disasters.
The death toll largely due to the collapsed buildings has kept increasing and it has topped 8,600 as of mid-May and the number of affected people is said to be more than 4.2 million.
The traditional brick-buildings in the densely populated capital account for the mass casualty of the earthquake. Water supply and sewer systems were destroyed by the devastating tremor creating poor sanitary condition deteriorated further by the lack of food and water.
Amidst this catastrophic condition, AMDA Nepal and its members have shown amazing strength and continue to do so to attend to the medical needs of their afflicted country.
Please bear in mind that these AMDA Nepal’s members and their families themselves have also been affected by the deadly earthquake.
AMDA Nepal has a special position in the entire network of AMDA Group.
At several occasions I have referred to AMDA Nepal as the eldest son among AMDA International family.
This is based on the fact that AMDA Nepal and its members have established themselves in their own country as a reliable and responsible NPO with it solid organizational structure and a large number of members.
As an officially registered organization in Nepal since 1990, AMDA-Nepal has been proactively engaged in promoting health for its people in collaboration with AMDA Headquarters and other international organizations. It runs four medical institutions, namely AMDA Clinic in Kathmandu, AMDA Hospital in Damak in the eastern part of the country, Mechi Hospital and Siddhartha Children & Women Hospital in the south-western part of the country, Siddhartha Children & Women Hospital was initially funded by Mainichi Shinbun, a newspaper publishing company in Japan, and its subscribers.
Right after the earthquake and in the middle of aftershocks, many of AMDA Nepal doctors attended to the injured and the sick in their own neighborhood as roads to the center of Kathmandu were cut off. In Kathmandu Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital has become a hub for medical services for the affected. Many of AMDA Nepal members have been affiliated with Tribhuvan University and thus they have been actively engaged in the emergency medical services at this institution as well. Two days after the earthquake a temporary clinic was also set up at AMDA Clinic in Kathmandu. At the same time staff at Siddhartha Children & Women Hospital traveled by car and on foot for several hours to offer medical services in Gorkha and other adjacent areas close to the epicenter. On Apr. 30th
, staff at AMDA Hospital in Damak joined with other AMDA members and expanded their medical services to Sindhupalchowk and other hard-hit communities which are not easily accessible by roads.
AMDA headquarters and AMDA International also acted quickly upon hearing the devastating news from Nepal. The first AMDA team was dispatched from Japan on the very next day of the earthquake. This was followed by several teams of Japanese medical personnel and coordinators as the severity of the local condition became clearer each day. AMDA Bangladesh, AMDA Cambodia, AMDA Canada, AMDA India, and AMDA Malaysia have sent their medical professionals to Nepal to join in the joint efforts. AMDA Nepal has set up emergency operation center to coordinate relief activities for volunteers within their countries and from overseas. It has functioned as communication and coordination center pooling resources for timely and efficient emergency relief. The successful handling of the relief efforts by AMDA Nepal may be attributed to the extensive experiences it has accumulated over the past years. The doctors of AMDA Nepal have been quite proactive in overseas emergency activities. In the 90s they were in Djibouti and Rwanda to respond to the medical needs of the refugee camps. In recent years they also traveled all the way to Haiti for the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief efforts. All these experiences of offering assistance in emergency situation overseas have honed and refined the technical as well as operational skills of AMDA Nepal doctors which were well reflected in the effective operation this time. Knowing both sides of assistance, the giver and receiver, is essential for smooth and timely coordination. It is also to my great joy to learn that a few member organizations of GPSP(Global Partnership for Sustainable Peace) have been active in affected areas reaching out to people in need. Among them was a team of doctors from DAP, Development Academy of the Philippines, which joined in the AMDA relief activities at the affected sites. It is worth mentioning that there were other AMDA Chapters and GPSP member organizations willing and ready to dispatch their team to Nepal but due to various factors were unable to join in the concerted efforts. As we have seen so many times in the past, a very unfortunate state of emergency has again evoked solidarity among AMDA and GPSP members.
With the rainy season approaching and heat rising in the weeks ahead, Nepal will face many challenges associated with natural disaster of this magnitude. Local residents have to tolerate heat and rain without roof over their head. Moreover, the danger of the spread of infectious diseases or the post-traumatic stress disorder may also be expected. The challenges are not just for the Nepali or for AMDA Nepal. The challenges are for all of us. In general, we humans have quite a short attention span and with the ever-changing world situation, our attention to a specific event even a tragic event of this scale may be passed to oblivion quite soon. We will keep reminding ourselves and all people who share in the spirit of Open Sogo-Fujo
not to forget about the suffering of the Nepalese people. AMDA has always stood by the people in need and we will never abandon this tradition.