AROUND twelve babies are being born every hour without access to basic healthcare in the areas of Nepal worst hit by two powerful earthquakes, according to UNICEF.
Following massive damage to maternity facilities the children’s organisation has warned that over the next month the lives of almost 18,000 babies and mothers could be at risk, unless urgent action is taken to restore key healthcare systems.
At least 70 per cent of birthing centres across the 14 most affected districts of Nepal have been damaged or destroyed, rising to 90 per cent in some areas.
“The number of mothers giving birth outside hospitals and birthing centres is feared to have gone up by more than a third in the worst-affected areas of the country since last month’s earthquake hit,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF’s Representative in Nepal.
“The first days of life are the most critical and dangerous for a child – and we are extremely concerned for the well-being of newborns, as well as for their mothers.”
With surviving facilities overwhelmed, many pregnant women have been left without access to the healthcare they need to ensure the safe delivery of their babies.
“As well as vulnerable newborns, pregnant mothers urgently need support as the risks of premature birth, miscarriage and complications rise amid the stress and confusion caused by the earthquakes,” Mr Hozumi said.
UNICEF has been working with its partners around the clock to help deliver aid to babies and mothers in desperate need, including:
– Setting up dozens of emergency medical tents, including maternity tents, across affected areas
Working to establish 22 shelter homes in the worst-hit districts, to care for mothers and newborns when they are discharged from hospital
– Establishing mobile clinics to deliver emergency primary healthcare for vulnerable mothers and children, mainly in areas where health facilities have been damaged or destroyed.
– Delivering scores of clean delivery kits to Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha districts, hundreds of treated bed nets to Nuwakot district, and hundreds of blankets to Lalitpur, Ramechhap, Dhading, Sindhupalchowk and Makwanpur districts, and the Maternity Hospital in Kathmandu.
– Distributing emergency health kits – containing key medicines – to treat up to 300,000 people in 10 districts.
– Distributing hundreds of sets of baby clothes in Sindhupalchok and Gorkha districts.
Australians wanting to donate to UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts in Nepal can do so by visiting www.unicef.org.au/nepal
Image Source: UNICEF Australia