By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC
The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) has been one of a number of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies that have come to Nepal to provide medical care in the wake of the April 25th 7.9 magnitude earthquake.
Amidst the chaos and destruction of the earthquake, disaster response teams were confronted with multiple challenges. “Logistics was our biggest problem,” explains Mr. Cai Wennan, Disaster Management Officer for the Red Cross. “Roads were so severely damaged that many of the worst-affected areas were difficult or impossible to access. We succeeded in transporting all our equipment to the town of Dhading Salenda, where there is still a tremendous need for assistance.”
Situated 23 kilometres from the epicentre of the earthquake, many areas around Dhading were almost completely destroyed. Because of damaged roads it took the Red Cross team eight hours to get to the town where they set up a mobile clinic which became operational on 4 May.
Staffed by a team of 20 emergency responders, the mobile clinic consists of 10 tents covering a floor space of 1,700 square metres. “The first day was comparatively quiet, but when the opening of the clinic was announced in the media, we received around 200 patients per day,” says Mr. Cai who explained how the team also ran mobile clinics that visited communities in out-lying areas to attend to the injured and help those who could not reach the main clinic.
To date, the team has treated more than 3,500 people at the mobile clinic and as part of its wider relief efforts, the Red Cross also provided 2,000 tents for people who lost their homes.
In recent years, the Red Cross Society of China's highly skilled emergency team has gained important experience from international emergency response operations. “Our work in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan gave us some very valuable insights and knowledge which contributed to the success of our mission here in Nepal,” says Mr. Cai.
While the number of patients coming to the Red Cross health clinic is declining, the arrival of the monsoon season heralds further health issues for the displaced who are sleeping out in the open. Many families have not only lost their homes but also their source of income. “We are already seeing signs of malnutrition among young children,” says Mr. Cai.
“This operation wouldn’t have been successful without the help of local people. One of the taxi drivers who worked for us in Kathmandu simply parked his vehicle and came with us to the field as a full time Red Cross volunteer,” says Mr. Cai. “He did this without expecting anything in return. His only desire was to do good and help others who are suffering.”