Isolated Nepal quake victims could see rise in death toll

2015-05-03 08:12


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Kathmandu - The inaccessibility of thousands of injured Nepalis stuck in remote mountain villages - vulnerable to sepsis and complications - could result in a massive rise in the death toll.

The country is now dealing with a medical crisis of thousands of injured patients, far removed from the hospitals in the capital Kathmandu.

Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman said that he anticipated an influx of wounded Nepalis if helicopters flying aid into the mountains began evacuating the wounded.

"We anticipate that when the helicopters can reach the villages and outlying areas to collect the injured, we will see a flood of patients. The helicopters have not been able to reach the areas in need and I am really worried that many more will die of disease and complications than the earthquake itself. It is a disaster above the one that has already been experienced," he said.

"It is cause for concern because the typical injuries from an earthquake can be addressed in 48 hours but here the problem is access. People can’t come down from the mountains and the medical teams cannot go up. We are ready for the influx and I hope that our medical team is able to see as many people as possible because we are well prepared."

He said the earthquake was unusual and it was a "huge challenge" for doctors with figures reported of almost 14 000 people injured.

"We have been to so many hospitals in the city looking for these thousands of people and it has now struck us that access," Sooliman said.

"Life in the mountains is difficult for the Nepali people in normal circumstances with them having to walk almost everywhere because the roads are impassable. So in the presence of a major catastrophe such as this one, there are probably thousands of injured people in the mountains with no way to get to the hospitals for the urgent medical care they need.  

"Seven days have passed and those patients are completely unable to come down and the real danger here is that many of them will die from sepsis. They are likely to get gangrene and end up dying from their wounds."

He said this was a "classic case" that emphasised the importance of getting a medical team into a disaster zone early.

"The horrors will be far worse if our start on the ground is delayed. In terms of treatment, all of these patients are manageable if their treatment is initiated as soon as possible,” Sooliman said.

- News24 is travelling with the Gift of the Givers team.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  nepal  |  nepal earthquake

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