CIWEC Earthquake Response:
We at CIWEC have worked hard from the zero hour to take care of the earthquake victims, both Nepalis and foreign tourists. It was a time of extreme stress from personal, family and the hospital perspective. After the initial few days, we focused on relief efforts to hard hit areas. We went on our own, partnered with several institutions and also donated to the PM relief fund. We will continue our relief efforts by partnering and working actively with other organizations that are in the field. Dr. Prativa Pandey heads up the Public Health project of America Nepal Medical Foundation and is visiting several villages for surveillance and intervention.
International Travel Medicine conference in Quebec, Canada
14th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) was held in Quebec, Canada in May 2015 where Dr. Prativa Pandey and Dr. Rashila Pradhan presented 4 original research papers from CIWEC. A special “Earthquake in Nepal” presentation was made by Dr. Pandey where she tried to promote “Visit Nepal to help Nepal” while she helped raise funds for relief and reconstruction. At this conference, former medical director of CIWEC Dr David Shlim finished his term as the President of ISTM and was presented with sunglasses and an umbrella to visit the incoming President who lives in Singapore
In March of 2016, Kathmandu will host the Asia Pacific International Travel Health Conference. Thanks to all the goodwill Nepal has earned in this world, many people have expressed an interest in coming to Nepal next March for the conference and for post conference trekking.
Will there be epidemics in Nepal?
So far it does not appear to be the case but this is early in the monsoon season. The volunteerism that we have seen of people building toilets where there is congregation of people in open fields, may not be enough to avert the epidemic of diarrheal diseases. We continue to emphasize to drink boiled, bottled or treated water. In several hard to reach areas where people have been relocated from other villages, people seem to be drinking river water or water from wells untreated and this could lead to an outbreak of diarrheal disease including cholera. As more people get resettled into new areas, the danger of outbreaks is real unless public health measures are implemented simultaneously. Cholera can be avoided by being careful with food and water and cholera vaccine is not required.
Volunteering for relief work
Immunizations that are recommended for relief work during the monsoon season would be hepatitis A, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis and update of tetanus immunization if >10 years ago. Nepal is very low risk for malaria particularly in the earthquake affected areas, and we do not recommend any malaria prophylactic medication. Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeved clothing, using mosquito nets at night in rural areas and by using insect repellent e.g. DEET 30%. Food and water safety, physical safety for persons doing manual work and road safety cannot be emphasized enough.
Is it safe to visit Nepal?
Yes! If you are away from Nepal or have friends/relatives who would like to visit, please let them know that it is safe to visit Nepal. Kathmandu is highly functional and tourist towns of Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini have not been affected by the earthquake at all. This is not the best trekking season due to the monsoon rains but trekking can be done in the Annapurna region where trails are very much intact.
CIWEC Earthquake Response Pictorial: