Newborns at Risk In Nepal as Monsoon Season Approaches
Fairfield, Conn. (May 26, 2015) — Thousands of newborn babies are at serious risk of illness and neonatal death in Nepal, Save the Children warns, one month on from the earthquake that claimed at least 8,500 lives.
An estimated 92,900 pregnant women were among the population hit by the powerful earthquakes that struck Nepal on April 25th and May 12th. Many of them are now living outside their damaged homes with their babies, under plastic sheeting in cold and increasingly unsanitary conditions. When the monsoon season starts in a few weeks, heavy rains will increase the risk of disease spreading, particularly waterborne diseases like cholera.
In the earthquake-affected areas, such as Sindhupalchok, Dolakha and Gorkha, 73% of health facilities providing maternity care have been damaged or destroyed, leaving women with few options to access neonatal and postnatal healthcare.
Dr. Louisa Baxter, Health Coordinator for Save the Children's emergency response in Nepal, said: “The critical first few days of a baby's life are when children are at their most vulnerable. Simple things like not having a sterile implement to cut the umbilical cord, or not having a clean and dry place to sleep, can be deadly for a newborn.
"One month on from the earthquake in Nepal, making sure that mothers have a safe place to give birth and bring their babies back to must be a priority."
Rupa, the mother of a three month old baby, had her home in Dolakha province destroyed in the second earthquake. “The drinking water here is coming out yellow now since the earthquake, and the ground floods where we're sleeping at night,” she said.
"I'm really worried about the small children – we adults can live out in the cold without proper food, but how will babies survive?"
Save the Children is working in the worst affected areas to support mothers and protect babies and children, reaching more than 127,531 people in the month since the earthquake hit. The charity's work includes:
- Running mobile health clinics and setting up semi-permanent tented clinics in seven districts that have lost their health facilities
- Giving baby kits to new mothers and Safe Delivery Kits to health clinics
- Distributing essential shelter items such as tarpaulin and blankets, as well as food, hygiene kits and kitchen sets
- Repairing broken water and sanitation facilities, building toilets in displacement camps and giving out chlorine tablets to purify water
- Setting up dozens of temporary classrooms and child friendly spaces, to help children recover and return to a normal life.
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