Nurse Seeks End to Infant and Maternal Mortality
Meet Sunita and Chaibai
Sunita’s local clinic, where she diligently attended prenatal care visits in anticipation for her new baby, had been destroyed in the recent earthquakes. Shortly after the destructive quakes, word began to spread that a One Heart delivery tent had been installed in the clinic’s place. Sunita was eager to deliver with a skilled professional and sought out the tent when the time came. “My labor pains started at 8 A.M., so my husband and I walked to the birthing tent, which took us about two hours. At 10 P.M., I had a boy. I am very happy with the nurses and the care I received. Our house has a big crack in it, so we’ve set up a tent to sleep in with the baby. Now, our biggest problem is our tent, which leaks a lot from the rain.”
As peak monsoon season looms large, One Heart now faces tremendous urgency to help rural families like Sunita’s to find safe shelter and access fully equipped health facilities. We’re working with our partners in Nepal to ensure that families like Sunita’s stay safe during the monsoon season and continue to receive the care they need.
Training for Health Providers
One Heart World-Wide’s staff recently completed training for 247 health providers in the use of chlorhexidine (CHX) to reduce infections in newborns! This training, conducted in partnership with Save the Children and JSI, gives healthcare providers in the districts of Sindhupalchok and Dhading the skills they need to prevent infection of the umbilical cord—a condition for which many newborns in the area are at a high risk.
Now, for the first time, staff from 39 birthing centers in these two districts are using the gel.
A Summary of the 7.8 Earthquake in Nepal
Week 1 (April 25 - May 3)
Our staff formed several first response teams to reach the districts of Dhading and Sindhupalchok, organizing medical camps and carrying antibiotics, bandages, sutures, food, and other emergency supplies to the most remote areas by vehicle and by foot. We hired additional local medical personnel to join these response teams. Thousands benefited from the supplies and aid. We formed strong partnerships with the emergency response NGOs AmeriCares and Direct Relief to coordinate relief efforts and transport emergency supplies more effectively.
Week 2 (May 3 - 10)
Our CEO arrived with an emergency obstetric team and over one ton of donated supplies and food, including medicine, water purifiers, tents, fetal dopplers, and WeCare Solar suitcases (to provide solar power in the birthing tents).
Our Kathmandu team began working with more foreign aid groups and the Nepali government to coordinate efforts in weekly planning meetings. We continued to deliver loads of supplies to both districts and conducted needs assessments of the damaged clinics and birthing centers to form a plan to ensure that communities had access to necessary care. Because most of the clinics and birthing centers were destroyed in these districts, the urgent need for health centers was apparent. We made it a top priority to install fully furnished, staffed, and equipped birthing tents in these two districts and arranged for the first twenty Tifie Humanitarian tents to be shipped to Nepal.
Week 3 (May 10 - 17)
The team was in the process of setting up our first birthing tent when the 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit. Shortly after, two women in labor approached the team for help and we brought them to the Kathmandu hospital where they delivered healthy babies. Six more babies were delivered by our team in the new tent and eighty pregnant women were examined. Nine more of our tents were installed in Sindhupalchok and Dhading. We hired a Nepali American NGO consultant to help our team develop a long-term strategic plan to respond and rebuild.
Week 4 (May 17- 24)
We installed the last ten tents in Sindhupalchok and Dhading, with a total of twenty now in place for deliveries and examinations. Santa Monica pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon arrived in Dhading and has been seeing patients. Our staff continues to participate in country-wide planning meetings and deploy supplies to rural communities. We are forming a plan to guide our work for the next 6 months and address the gap in health services, family planning, and maternal and newborn care. To date, we have distributed one million dollars of medical supplies donated from Direct Relief.
Temporary Birthing Centers
We had a team in the district of Dhading setting up Barebones tents to be used as temporary birthing centers when the second major earthquake hit Nepal on May 12th.
Moments after the quake hit, two very frightened women in labor approached our team, seeking help. Since the tent was just being set up and not yet equipped to handle a delivery, team members transported the two women to the nearest hospital for delivery in Kathmandu. Both women were overjoyed and grateful to give birth to healthy baby boys.
Meanwhile, the team members remaining in Dhading continued to set up the tent, which is now equipped with cots, solar power, privacy screens, and basic medical equipment and supplies to conduct a safe delivery. We are thrilled to report that the first delivery in the tent occurred yesterday under the supervision of one of our medical teams.
We have a total of 40 of these tents and we plan to set them up in pairs around the hard-hit districts of Sindhupalchok and Dhading. One tent will serve as a 24-hour birthing center, and the other will provide shelter for the skilled birth attendant who will attend to incoming patients. This will ensure that all pregnant women in the area have a safe place to deliver their babies.
The tents were generously donated by our partner, Tifie Humanitarian and shipped by FedEx and First Mile Shipping with help from Direct Relief. Choice Humanitarian is helping our staff set these tents up around the two districts.
New Earthquake in Nepal
A second 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal earlier today, followed by several significant aftershocks. There are already over 1,200 injured and 66 deaths reported, and these numbers are increasing every hour. Based on the reports, we believe the damage will be as extensive as the first quake.
We are extremely relieved and thankful to report that everyone on the One Heart World-Wide team is safe. Most of the team was in the district of Dhading putting up medical tents from Tifie Humanitarian when it hit.
Our team will continue to provide support to the people of Dhading and Sindhuplachok. We are heading to Sindhupalchok tomorrow morning with much-needed medical supplies and tents. Please continue to spread the word and support our work. Donate to our earthquake relief fund here.
We are posting regular updates on our Facebook page and here if you’d like ongoing updates. We are truly grateful for your ongoing support and love. Together, we can help make a difference in the lives of many during this difficult time.
Update from Nepal
Our CEO is in Nepal to provide on the ground aid with an emergency response obstetric team and she is working with our staff and partners to build a long-term plan for rebuilding. Below is her update from May 10th.
“When we first arrived in Kathmandu we were all surprised at how intact most of the city appeared. While there are selected areas where it looks as though a giant hand pushed over the buildings as though they were children’s toys, the city feels somewhat usual. The real devastation is in the remote mountainous regions—where the poorest of the poor live clinging to the side of the mountains in stone homes. We drove all day up a very muddy, twisty road that was almost impassable in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Several times I feared for our lives as the SUVs slid sideways on a steep cliff thousands of feet. We drove up to one of the birthing centers that is now unusable due to severe damage. Worst of all was seeing the local people dig through the piles of stones that were once their shelter in search of anything that they could use to rebuild. Most people were living in makeshift hovels from scraps of wood and tin. Everyone, including the small children, was digging in the rubble with their bare hands, removing bricks and stones that collapsed inside their homes. The donated CLIF Bars we brought were most welcomed; we focused on giving them to the elderly and the youngest. I felt helpless as we had not received our supplies yet and did not have much to offer but our friendship and compassion.
Relief workers had not made their way to this remote village; there are so many stranded and in need. All day US helicopters flew overhead with medical teams and supplies to the hardest-to-reach villages that were days away by foot. The locals watched in awe of the giant birds flying overhead.
What touched all of us the most was the resilience of the Nepali people, despite the loss of everything, including family members, they were working side-by-side with their neighbors and making sure we felt welcomed. Surrounded by the devastation there was joy and a sense of hope for their future. The children played on piles of stones, women sang while digging through the rubble, and when our car got stuck the locals laughed and then pitched in to help us. When walking down the street an older man came up to me and kissed my hands. He seemed so happy to know that help had arrived.”
This Mother’s Day, stand with the women of Nepal
One Heart World-Wide has been on the ground in Nepal delivering supplies, food, water, and emergency aid since the earthquake hit on April 25. An estimated 126,000 pregnant women were affected by the devastation and our team is on the ground responding. You can show the mothers of Nepal that they are not forgotten by helping our relief team today.
We have several field teams in the districts of Dhading and Sindhupalchok treating the injured, coordinating transport for those who need to be treated at hospitals, and assessing the damages to health facilities and communities. They are carrying supplies on their backs where remote villages are inaccessible by road.
Our founder Arlene Samen is headed to Nepal today with board member Evan Kaplan, disaster response midwife Robin Lim, and Nepali-speaking OBGYN Sarah Averbach. Follow their trip at our blog and on facebook.
Over the next two weeks the team will work with our Nepal staff to develop a longterm strategy for Dhading and Sindhupalchok, our two program districts that were among the hardest hit in the earthquake. Over 60% of the health facilities in these two districts have been totally destroyed and most have sustained heavy damages. The team will also be administering aid and bringing a huge shipment of supplies including tents and backpacks, food, water filtration systems, Solar Suitcases, and medical supplies.
Due to the lack of facilities, deliveries are being conducted in the streets and in unsanitary tents, resulting in infections. Our emergency response team is treating these and spreading the word about our clinic tents that will be in place within the week. We are working with Tifie Humanitarian and Choice Humanitarian to set up 40 large furnished solar tents from Tiffie Humanitarian that will last for up to 5 years until we can rebuild the facilities. Direct Relief will stock them with all the necessary medical equipment and supplies.
With Mother’s Day on Sunday, we are thinking about the mothers in Nepal whose lives have been lost, the strong and courageous mothers carrying their children to medical camps for aid and caring for their frightened families, and the mothers who are delivering in the streets after the birthing centers were destroyed. We stand with these women and are tirelessly sending help to reach them every day.
You can stand with the people of Nepal. Your support is desperately needed. Please give today. Give in honor of your own mother, or in solitude with the people of Nepal who are suffering so greatly. Your support is deeply appreciated.
Dhading District Update
One Heart World-Wide has been coordinating the relief efforts and support the local district health office. The emergency relief teams are diligently working to help the victims. We currently have a total of nine teams who are deployed in the area. A couple of teams stay at the main hospital, the rest of the teams are being sent in the more remote areas of the district to assess the situation/damages and provide help/support to the people who were not able to come/be transported to the main hospital. 651 deaths reported today.
The One Heart World-Wide team came back from Sindhupalchok today with the results of their preliminary assessment.The first shipment of medical supplies was donated to the district health office for the district hospital. We are in the process of putting together another shipment of supplies and the One Heart World-Wide emergency response teams. Death toll estimated at 1200 today.
Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts
On April 25th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. Dozens of aftershocks followed, including a 6.7 magnitude earthquake on April 26th. Thirty-five of the seventy-five districts of Nepal have been affected in the Western and Central regions, including the Kathmandu Valley. The exact number of people affected is yet to be determined, but as of today the Government of Nepal reports over 6,000 dead and almost 12,000 injured. These numbers will most likely increase in the next few days as more reports start to come in.
Among the districts most affected by the earthquake are two of One Heart World-Wide’s program areas, Dhading and Sindhupalchok. In Dhading, the death toll is currently at 600 and in Sindhupalchok, over 1,000. Wounded people are lying in the open along with the rest of the population for fear of potential aftershocks. We have received reports that over 60% of the health facilities in these two districts had been completely destroyed and that over 90% sustained partial damages.
The Government of Nepal has officially requested our assistance. If you would like to help, there are two ways you can assist us: immediate response and long-term recovery.
Immediate response: The Government of Nepal has asked One Heart World-Wide to conduct medical camps in Dhading and Sindhupalchok. With the health infrastructure currently inoperative, it is extremely urgent that appropriate medical care is provided, both to the wounded of the earthquake and to the general population needing health care (including pregnant women and their newborns infants).
In Dhading, our first relief team arrived two days ago with medical supplies, more supplies and food were sent yesterday. More will be needed in the coming two weeks. The main road to Kathmandu is now open, which facilitates relief efforts. Nine medical teams (all volunteers) are now hard at work helping the local medical staff dealing with earthquake victims. The heavy rains are making treatment difficult. The crowded and precarious current living conditions puts people at increased risk for infectious diseases. Today, our team headed over to Sindhupalchok to assess what will be needed in terms of first response needs.
We are asking for donations to cover the costs of local medical personnel, travel, equipment/supplies and transport to be able to conduct these camps in both districts. We estimate the costs of running emergency medical camps (providing medical care and food) to reach approximately $50,000 per district. We have already raised the funds necessary for Dhading. We now are seeking to raise another $50,000 to cover the needs to Sindhupalchok.
Long-term recovery: Long-term recovery is as essential as the immediate response. The earthquake has destroyed much of Nepal’s infrastructure and a lot of work will be required to rebuild it. This is a major issue, as health care will not available for any of the inhabitants of the affected areas, and pregnant women will not have a safe place to give birth anymore. This is likely to result in additional deaths, both among the very vulnerable pregnant women and their newborns, but also in the general population. This is another area where you can help One Heart World-Wide make a difference. We usually upgrade existing health facilities into functioning birthing centers. We will now have to rebuild all of the destroyed health facilities in our program areas. We are asking your support to do so. This will not only allow pregnant women and newborn babies to have access to essential care for a safe delivery, but also allow the general populations to have access to essential health care services (as most of these facilities provide care to the general population as well as to obstetric patients).
We are seeking funds to help us rebuild these birthing centers. We estimate the costs of rebuilding the birthing center to range between $10,000 and $25,000 per birthing center (depending on the level of damages). As of today we have 34 birthing centers which are fully destroyed in Dhading and 16 which have sustained partial damage (we are missing information for 3 of the most remote location). We do not have exact information of the level of damages in Sindhupalchok. We should be able to obtain this in the coming week.
Thank you, your donation will make a tremendous difference for the people that were affected by this terrible tragedy.
Arlene Samen, Founder and President,
One Heart World-Wide