Nepal woman children
A Nepali woman and her baby queue for a bus to leave Kathmandu and return to her village in the aftermath of the 7.8-magnitude earthquakeREUTERS/Olivia Harris

Around 50,000 pregnant women and girls could be affected by Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, which has killed more than 5,000 people and impacted the life of some eight million people, the United Nations says.

United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), which addresses reproductive health and population issues, estimates some 50,000 pregnant women and girls could be among the survivors.

Pregnant women affected by the disaster require maternal health services, including antenatal care, safe delivery services, post-partum care, and, for those who experience complications, emergency obstetric services, the UN body said on Tuesday 28 April.

At risk of gender-based violence

Protection for women and girls from gender-based violence and other threats will also be critical.

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

"Many women lose access to essential reproductive health services and give birth in appalling conditions without access to safe delivery services and lifesaving care," she said.

UNFPA is coordinating with the Nepalese Government and humanitarian partners to respond to these needs.

Emergency staff members are being deployed, and dignity kits and reproductive health kits are en route to Nepal.

"The UNFPA 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 Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, in a statement.

"All efforts will be exerted to support their safety and the safety of their babies," he added.

According to the UN, the massive earthquake in Nepal has affected eight million people, more than a quarter of the country's population.