Broken bones and chronic illness – Red Cross field hospital treats hundreds in Chautara

Published: 9 May 2015 15:11 CET

By Minna Passi, Finnish Red Cross/IFRC

A young boy lies on a hospital bed. His mother is trying to keep him calm while the doctor casts his broken leg. It is nearly two weeks since the earthquake and many people still have untreated fractures.

The town of Chautara in Sindhupalchok used to have a district hospital but the quake has rendered it too dangerous to use. Medics moved to a muddy football field and have had to operate under a few tarpaulins with very limited equipment.

This week the situation improved remarkably when the Red Cross opened its field hospital. The hospital operates from several tents and it is fully equipped with wards and an operating theatre. It also has a well-stocked pharmacy that patients can use for free.

One of the most vital pieces of equipment is the x-ray machine. On the day it was installed, more than 30 patients had their x-rays taken. According to the Norwegian staff working at the hospital more than ninety per cent of the patients had fractures. On the second day, the line to the x-ray tent was even longer and the surgeon was busy making one cast after another.

The medics are mainly from the Norwegian Red Cross but local nurses and doctors are now working alongside their international counterparts to treat the steady stream of patients.

But the earthquake is not the only reason people in this area need treatment. Many have chronic illnesses that demand medical attention and doctors delivered their first child – a healthy baby girl – this week.

Health care is not the only Red Cross focus in this area. The quake also ruined the water supply and the Nepal Red Cross and the Qatar Red Crescent have been working hard to supply safe drinking water to the town. There hospital itself has a clean water tank for people nearby and there are water distributions taking place across Chautara.

The British Red Cross also has a team focussing on sanitation and installing much-needed toilets in the area. Hygiene promotion is also part of the plan in a bid to offset the threat of illnesses that are common in the aftermath of a disaster such as diarrhoea.

And the Red Cross is now striving to reach the most remote places in Sindhupalchok where needs remain huge and shelter is a priority as monsoon season draws closer, threatening to compound the already desperate situation for many thousands of people.