Kathmandu: Some 50,000 pregnant women were likely affected by the devastating earthquake in Nepal, a UN agency said on Tuesday.

Initial estimates by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicate that some 50,000 pregnant women and girls could be among the survivors in quake-affected Nepal where at least 4,347 lives were lost in the temblor. 

The toll continues to mount days after a devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Nepal on Saturday. 

Pregnant women affected by the disaster require maternal health services, including ante-natal care, safe delivery services, post-partum care and, for those who experience complications, emergency obstetric services, it said. 

Protection for women and girls from gender-based-violence and other threats will also be critical, said the UN agency.

“In times of upheaval or natural disasters, pregnancy-related deaths and gender-based violence soar,” said Priya Marwah, UNFPA’s humanitarian response coordinator in Asia and the Pacific. 

“Many women lose access to essential reproductive health services and give birth in appalling conditions without access to safe delivery services and lifesaving care.”

UNFPA is coordinating with the government and humanitarian partners to respond to these needs in Nepal. Emergency staff members are being deployed, and reproductive health kits are en route to the quake-hit areas in the Himalayan nation, it said.

“The fund is particularly concerned about the fate of pregnant women who have been affected by this tragedy, including those who might face potentially life-threatening complications,” said UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin.