While life in New Zealand is getting back to normal, unfortunately our friends in Nepal aren’t as lucky. Nepal now has over 9,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with daily new case numbers rising swiftly, despite a nationwide lockdown.
We have been blown away by the generous donations from Himalayan Trust supporters to the COVID-19 Emergency Response appeal. Since launching in mid-May, the appeal has raised over NZ$25,000. These funds paid for an initial shipment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, which were delivered in April to Phaplu hospital and half a dozen clinics in the southern part of Solukhumbu District (Everest region).
Because the amount raised far exceeded our expectations, we have now been able to dispatch a second shipment to supply even more clinics across the region. PPE is crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through health workers and the community. By funding these essential supplies, our incredible donors are helping save lives. Thank you so much.
The CEO of Himalayan Trust Nepal, Mingma Norbu Sherpa, has been in touch to let us know what a difference the extra support is making. Here is what he had to say:
The people of Solukhumbu District (Mt. Everest region) are really grateful to the Himalayan Trust New Zealand and its kind hearted donors for providing COVID-19 prevention material support to the front line staff of Phaplu hospital and over a dozen government operated clinics. Himalayan Trust provided COVID-19 preventive supplies including PPE sets, KN95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, thermal gun, oximeter, disinfectant room spray, etc.
Since COVID-19 is a new virus and it spread so quickly, people in Nepal and the remote district of Solukhumbu were not prepared to face the emerging health crisis. The demand for preventive materials increased suddenly and those materials were not easily available in Nepal. The country has been locked down since 24th March and there are no domestic or international flights in operation.
By request of Phaplu hospital, Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality and peripheral clinics, Himalayan Trust Nepal ordered COVID-19 preventive supplies and delivered them to their respective institutions in April and June. Because of these supplies, health staff gained confidence and could operate health services smoothly. As a result, the local communities received health services regularly even during the lockdown period.
If Phaplu hospital, Khunde hospital and outreach clinics did not have those supplies, the situation would have been very serious. For example, Phaplu hospital had a quarantine which they would have had to work through without PPE. One person in quarantine tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent to the Provincial Hospital in Biratnagar. Because of this case, Phaplu hospital was sealed and all outpatient services were suspended for two weeks. In this difficult time, Himalayan Trust also supported the salary of an additional doctor who operated the emergency service while the rest of the hospital staff were in quarantine.
Now the COVID-19 situation in Nepal is becoming worse as the pandemic has spread in 76 districts out of 77. The number of infections as of 22nd June has reached 9,561 plus 23 deaths. Because of the open border with India and with more than 250,000 Nepalese people working in India having returned, the threat of the virus is ever growing. In addition, over 400,000 Nepalese people working in the Middle East are returning to Nepal. Therefore, the COVID-19 prevention materials supported by the Himalayan Trust New Zealand and its donors have been so useful to save the lives of the local communities, protect the lives of the health workers and boast their morale.”Mingma Norbu Sherpa, CEO, Himalayan Trust Nepal
We will continue to provide support for health workers as they fight back against COVID-19. We are also working with our partners in Nepal to determine more ways we can help. Tourism is the main source of income in Solukhumbu District, and with all international flights suspended and no tourists visiting, economic hardship has already set in. With no end in sight for this pandemic, we anticipate there will be a need for humanitarian support as well.
What we know for sure is Nepal is being hit hard by this virus and the situation is evolving rapidly. If you can, please donate so we can continue to respond quickly to the emerging needs in Solukhumbu District.
Thank you to our supporters for helping to continue Sir Edmund Hillary’s legacy, even during the toughest of times. We’ll continue to keep you updated on the situation in Nepal and how you can help.