Canadian volunteers and Canadian donated medicines en route to Nepal through HPIC and CMAT

CMAT assessment team at their camp April 28, 2015, Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo courtesy of CMAT

TORONTO (May 1, 2015) – Canada’s pharmaceutical industry is rallying a response to the Nepal earthquake through donations of essential medicines requested by Health Partners International of Canada’s partners, mobile hospitals and medical teams, on the ground.

“Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT) anticipates leaving Toronto and Vancouver tomorrow equipped with the first Physician Travel Packs provided by HPIC for Nepal,” said Alexandra Wilson, HPIC’s Manager of Emergency Relief.

“Since the earthquake struck last Saturday, we have been in touch with our partners discussing the needs and mounting a response plan,” Wilson said.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck just outside Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25. The United Nations says more than eight million people have been affected and about 70,000 houses destroyed.

“Many who survived the quake are now falling ill because they have been living in the open and drinking contaminated water,” said Valerie Rzepka, a nurse practitioner and the executive director of CMAT. “Our rapid assessment team and Canine Search and Rescue teams arrived April 28. They have been attending the WHO Health Cluster Meetings to ensure that our teams work in a coordinated way.”

CMAT’s Team 1 consists of about 15 volunteers from across Canada, including doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, paramedics and logistics support people. HPIC is equipping the team with enough essential medicine and supplies to provide up to 2,400 treatments.

“Our health volunteers have the knowledge, skills, and ability needed to provide care but without the Physician Travel Packs provided by HPIC, we cannot provide the highest quality of care. Having access to the medicines needed to treat people is the one of the most important things,” Rzepka said.

The team will likely be working out of CMAT’s inflatable field hospital in a community in the remote regions outside Kathmandu. “Along with primary health care, they will be doing basic procedures, like setting fractures, suturing lacerations, doing wound care and providing maternal and newborn care,” Rzepka said.

“We also anticipate a need for psychological support as well, and our behavioural health experts will provide that for both our patients and our team members,” Rzepka said. “Post-traumatic stress is a major issue following a disaster.”

“We would like to thank CMAT and their volunteers,” said Glen Shepherd, HPIC’s President. “We would also like to thank our product donors who have already offered medicines for Nepal: AstraZeneca Canada, Johnson & Johnson, Paladin, Pfizer Canada, Pharmascience, Sunovion and Teva Canada.”

HPIC and CMAT are both continuing to respond to Nepal and need your help. All donations until May 25, 2015 will be matched by the Government of Canada.

Donate online:


PHOTO OP: Team departing Vancouver Airport with Physician Travel Packs tomorrow (Saturday, May 2, for time and place contact CMAT’s Leslie Eltom)

For more information, please contact:

Christina Parsons
Director, Communications

Lesley Eltom
Director of Communications