WHO setting up Gorkha field office to extend healthcare reach in Nepal


In a step to boost the health-care assistance to earthquake survivors who have been unreachable since last week’s disaster, the World Health Organization has announced the establishment of a new field office in the Gorkha district of Nepal. The field office will be established in strategic coordination with the Nepalese government and other humanitarian partners, who are also establishing operational bases in the city. From there, WHO and the national authorities will be able to coordinate land and air support to rush medicines, health care professionals and other life-saving resources to some of the most remote regions impacted by the earthquake.

Gorkha is a 3-4 hour drive north west of the capital and has been selected as the first major health hub outside Kathmandu. It is one of the districts most affected by the earthquake, but also provides a good base from which to access other severely impacted areas. The new field office began operating on Monday May 4, and will form part of a push by Nepalese authorities and the humanitarian sector to reach into remote, mountainous communities in urgent need of support. The new base is the first of several and will also help shore up the emergency and routine health-care services that have arrived in the area already.

“Health care services are being delivered in built-up areas in Gorkha and those that still can be reached by road,” said Hyo-Jeong Kim, WHO Emergency Operations Manager, during a May 2 field visit to the hilltop village of Katteldanda in Gorkha. The village was devastated by the earthquake.

“But we have also identified seven communities beyond the Himalayas in an area not easily accessible, and where there are about 6,000 people who have not been reached with services since the earthquake struck. Below those villages, there are about 7,000 additional people who have not been reached, she added.”

It is critical, Kim said, that health workers and medical supplies reach these areas immediately. “It is essential that people are treated for injuries or infections that they may have, and then protected against diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory infections and other infections to name a few. Pregnant women must also be given rapid access to care for safe deliveries and to ensure that any complication of pregnancy or birth is rapidly addressed.”

A 15-minute drive away down a dirt road, is the main hospital for the district of Gorkha. The hospital workers have seen an upsurge in patients needing care for injuries, including broken bones and lacerations, along with the delivery of more regular health services, such care for children and pregnant women. The need to improve logistics in the region is therefore acute.

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