Nepal earthquake: Emergency phase ends for medics

Nepal earthquake: Emergency phase ends for medics

After more than two weeks a week of emergency medical work, the Thai team helping victims of Nepal's devastating earthquake have entered the rehabilitation mode.

Dr Surachet Satitniramai, deputy permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said the Thai medical team had started its second week of helping victims.

It would now focus on rehabilitating patients after providing emergency medical help initially, with an increasing number of victims found to have suffered from previous ailments such as diabetes.

Yesterday the Thai team treated 135 patients, he said, adding that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had upgraded a field hospital operated by Thai doctors to be an international coordination centre to work with medical personnel from other countries.

The Thai Public Health Ministry will shortly dispatch a second medical team to Nepal so that the first team can take a break, he said.

"We have learned a lot about helping earthquake victims, especially from highly skilled personnel from Japan and Taiwan.

"The lessons can be used to upgrade our skills in preparation for similar disasters that may happen in Thailand in the future."

Dr Watchira Pengchan, also a deputy permanent secretary at the ministry, said the WHO had translated Thailand's manual for testing the psychological state of disaster victims from Thai into Hindi for use in Nepal in assessing the mental impact on individual patients.

Sek Wannamethee, spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, said the latest official data showed that more than 7,000 people had died in the 7.8-magnitude quakes as of yesterday, with more than 14,000 injured and 142,000 houses demolished.

It was the worst quake disaster in Nepal in 81 years.

The Royal Thai Air Force yesterday dispatched another two C-130 aircraft to Nepal with essential items such as rubber sheets, blankets, water-purification equipment, and other items from HRH Princess Sirindhorn.

Three Thai citizens will return home in one of the aircraft.

From Thursday to Saturday last week, Thai armed forces and medical personnel treated 420 patients, he said.

The Thai team also helped large Nepalese hospitals in the capital Kathmandu treat patients being sent in from field hospitals.

Medical personnel were sent to 10 villages with a combined population of 800 near the capital to provide preliminary healthcare and ensure they had clean water and food.

Maj-General Sansern Kaewkam-nerd, the deputy government spokesman, said the Thai people had donated Bt111.88 million (S$4.5 million) to help victims in Nepal between April 28 and Sunday, plus large quantities of clothing, instant food, drinking water, and 35 crates of medicines.

"Because of logistical and other problems, it's better to use donation money to buy necessity items in areas close to the disaster zone for further distribution rather than transporting them from Thailand to Nepal," he said.

"On May 6, we will have a teleconference between the coordination centre at Government House in Bangkok with the Thai Embassy in Nepal to update the situation and improve our efforts to help."

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