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Prevention of diseases a crucial task in quake-hit Nepal

Xu Wei and Zhao Lei
Updated: May 8,2015 8:28 AM     China Daily

A Chinese health official warned that prevention of disease epidemics will be a key task in the quake-hit areas of Nepal as China promised continued aid to help the country’s reconstruction.

Mao Qun’an, a spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at a news conference on May 7 that completion of the search and rescue effort means attention must be turned to preventing plague and other diseases.

“We are well aware that the chance of a plague breakout is very high, as history has suggested in past natural disasters. We hope we can prevent such breakouts through our concerted effort with Nepal authorities,” he said.

Nepal’s Home Ministry said on May 6 that the death toll from the magnitude-7.9 earthquake and a string of aftershocks rose to 7,675, with more than 15,000 injured.

China will send a second team of doctors on May 8 to replace the current government medical team, which is composed of 58 medical workers, Mao said. The country currently has eight groups of rescuers and medical workers in Nepal to assist with treatment and disease prevention, according to the national health commission.

As of May 7, the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army have transported 186 metric tons of aid materials to Nepal. A second delivery of 360 tons was to arrive in the country by May 8.

China has donated 1,600 tents, 10,000 blankets, 327 power generators and other badly needed supplies in the quake zones, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Liu Jianchao, the assistant foreign minister, said China is aware of a request by the Nepalese government for $1.8 billion in international assistance for the reconstruction.

“The international society should take some responsibility for the reconstruction effort. China will stay closely in touch with the Nepalese authorities and provide the aid necessary to the reconstruction,” Liu said at the news conference.

In response to reports that Nepal will seek funding support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to rebuild, Liu said the establishment of the AIIB is still being prepared and it will be up to the founding members to determine how the bank will operate.

The Chinese military will also continue to play an active role in the assistance effort, said Senior Colonel Zheng Weibo, director of emergency response officer at the PLA’s General Staff Headquarters.

“PLA medical workers have given treatment to nearly 2,400 local residents and applied antibacterial treatment to 800,000 square meters of living areas,” he said.

First responders from the PLA are tasked with transporting relief materials, ensuring the opening of the highway between China and Nepal and disease prevention, Zheng said.