S'pore Red Cross sets up mobile clinic in Nepal

S'pore Red Cross sets up mobile clinic in Nepal

A mobile clinic set up by a Singapore Red Cross medical team in the district of Nuwakot, one of the worst-hit by the April 25 earthquake, will start seeing patients today.

The six-member team, which will be working together with the Qatar Red Crescent Society, comprises an operations worker as well as three doctors, a nurse and a paramedic who will tend to ailments common to disaster zones such as diarrhoea, food poisoning and respiratory tract infection.

Nuwakot is about 80km away from Kathmandu. The team will be rotating on a 10-day basis, and the clinic, set up near a hospital, is expected to be operational for at least three weeks.

An earthquake victim who has to sleep in the open, which exposes him to the cold and rain, can develop infections such as pneumonia, said Dr Tan Hun Hoe, the 61-year-old mission leader.

"Left untreated, such illnesses can cause a domino effect that will lead to further medical problems," Dr Tan added.

The urologist with Mount Alvernia Hospital has 36 years of medical experience and has participated in and led more than 50 overseas medical missions.

Besides post-disaster illnesses, the mobile clinic will also be able to perform minor operations, complementing a Bhutan-Nepal team based at Trishuli Hospital that can perform more complicated operations.

The Singapore team, which arrived in Nuwakot with nearly 200kg of medicine on Saturday, is expecting to see between 100 and 200 patients daily in the next few days.

One reason the team picked Nuwakot to base the clinic is that it is a hub town serving 61 villages and communities, said Dr Tan Chi Chiu, 55, a gastroenterologist with Gleneagles Medical Centre.

He is a veteran of many overseas medical missions, having led one of the first Singapore Armed Forces humanitarian relief missions to Baguio city in Luzon in the Philippines after an earthquake in 1990, as well as the SAF's first relief mission to a war zone during the Gulf War in 1991.

Of the 55,000 homes in Nuwakot, about 50,000 were destroyed in the earthquake.

For Dr Raymond Lim, a general surgery resident on his first overseas mission with the Singapore Red Cross, he also has a personal reason for coming to Nepal to help.

"I have a couple of friends from Nepal, and I want to help them in their time of need," he said.

yanliang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 4, 2015.
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