Nepal Earthquake Brings Risk of Disease Outbreaks

The world was shaken after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal last Saturday. This has had a devastating impact, estimated 7 million people affected, including 2.8 million children.

As many as 1.5 million people in the Kathmandu Valley are now spending their nights outdoors, either because their homes have been destroyed or they are afraid to spend the night in their homes. 


The death toll so far is 6,000 plus.

Aftermath of earthquake brings risk of disease outbreaks among the survivors.

Respiratory diseases, diarrheal diseases, and measles are main concerns.

This type of disaster creates a large congregation of people living out in the open increases risk of diseases spreading and speed at which they spread.

Humanitarian agencies (i.e. UNICEF) are rushing to bring aid to help working to provide safe drinking water by setting up a sanitation system and helping to pay for water tanks in areas where people are congregating.

o Providing people with oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements to help prevent diarrheal diseases is another precaution agencies are using.

Rehydration salts are added to water and provide electrolytes to help people hydrate. Zinc supplements help with immune function and transport of water in the body.

This disaster may have brought on a lot damage to Nepal’s health infrastructure, such as equipment needed to keep vaccines at right temperature.

UNICEF is making sure vaccines are stored properly, and assessing population to see if people may need to be vaccinated to prevent measles spread.

Another challenge after disasters like Nepal earthquake is just providing people with normal daily care (people who need dialysis or daily medications may not be able to access them).

This will cause a lot of secondary spikes in illness, because people reliant on medical care can't get it.

Still, several organizations are working to provide survivors with essential items and medical supplies. The Red Cross says it has 19,000 relief kits, which contain clothing, kitchen sets, personal hygiene items and more, available in Nepal.

The World Health Organization has distributed medical supplies that can meet the needs of 40,000 people for three months.

It will also be harder for women to breast-feed their infants.

UNICEF will be providing places for women to breast-feed, such as special tents.

Another big challenge for the humanitarian relief effort will be getting access to remote areas in Nepal, which are difficult to reach because of the lack of transportation infrastructures

2010 Haiti earthquake presented similarchallenges, but Nepal earthquake is in some ways more challenging because of its remote location. The Relief effort from the United States will be slower because of the greater distance between the two countries

Prevention and control measures

• Prompt and adequate prevention and control measures, and appropriate case management and surveillance systems are essential for minimizing infectious disease 

• Must quickly re-establish and improve delivery of primary health care

• Provide sufficient medical supply 

• Healthcare workers and medical personnel should be trained on appropriate case management 

• Public health responders should set up rapid disease risk assessment within the first week of the disaster in order to identify disaster impacts and health needs.