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Preparedness explains some differences between Haiti and Nepal’s response to earthquake

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 05 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3059

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First responders to Nepal's earthquake

Author in the paper "Preparedness explains some differences between Haiti and Nepal’s response to earthquake" has explained the basic differences in response to the earthquake between these two countries.(1) While his observation speaks that Nepal was more prepared to withstand Earthquake of this strength in terms of better medical and civil infrastructure and better awareness about personal protective behavior, he did not point out the role of civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations and community health workers in immediate relief and response.

Nepal had already witnessed two massive earthquakes in the past 100 years until the one on 25 April 2015 which killed nearly 8,604 and 16,808 have been injured.(2)The impact, earthquake produced in Haiti in terms of total deaths and injuries were staggering which we (Nepalese) were very fortunate not to have the same level. While the epicenter of earthquake in Haiti was 25 km away in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince---the capital and the most populated city, the epicenter of Nepal's earthquake was more than 150 kilometers west of Kathmandu and Sindhupalchowk---the two most affected districts. At the higher distance from the epicenter less impact can be expected. Also, the earthquake occurred in the weekend when all the schools and offices were closed preventing the likely mass causalities and deaths of children, youths and adults.

While the global medias foretold Nepal's poverty and political fiasco might spur mismanagement in post-earthquake relief and response. The truth is it didn’t. Nepal is a country where historically social system, civil society, non-governmental organization bonded each other and with government, and has produced significant outcomes in health, education and agriculture. These organizations and community workers were the first responders on the ground to help people out of collapsed buildings and rubbles. They were mobilized immediately after the earthquake. As a result, many injured people were taken to hospital immediately and missing were found alive within days. The respect Nepal had gained internationally brought massive worldwide attention, triggering donations to help relief and rescue immediately after the earthquake. Within 24 hours after the Earthquake, 19 million was raised in the UK alone. More than a dozen of foreign medical teams and international organizations arrived within a week.(3) Their trained expatriates quickly took the position providing immediate medical care in the affected cities and villages.


1. Auerbach Paul S. Preparedness explains some differences between Haiti and Nepal’s response to earthquake BMJ 2015; 350 :h3059
2. Mishra SR, Neupane SR. Sexual minorities and people living with HIV needs urgent attention in Nepal's Earthquake BMJ. Available from (accessed June 10, 2015)
3. Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. An update on the aid response and support in Nepal: April to May 2015. Available from (accessed June 10, 2015)

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 June 2015
Shiva Raj Mishra
Master of Public Health Candiate
Dinesh Neupane, MscPH, PhD Candidate, Aarhus University, Denmark
(1) Nepal Development Society, (2) School of Population Health, University of Western Australia
Unit 6, 15 Stirling Stirling Hwy, Crawley, Perth, Australia