Philippines: More survivors receive medical care in Tacloban

November 2013

Since the beginning of the humanitarian relief operation WHO has assisted foreign medical teams to bring more than 60 tons of medical supplies to Tacloban.

“Only by staying here will we be able to rebuild our homes,” says 61-year-old Eduardo Palma who spent seven days with a broken leg in an evacuation centre before being transported to a hospital in Tacloban.

Eduardo Palma is treated in Australian field hospital after spending 8 days with a broken leg in evacuation center in Palo, the Philippines.
WHO/T. Jasarevic

“One of my grandchildren died when the ceiling collapsed, and a huge block of concrete fell on my leg.”

His children put wooden immobilizers on his leg and with some medicines Eduardo was able to endure a week of pain. A week later, Eduardo was transferred to an emergency field hospital set up by Australian Medical Assistance (AUSMAT). Operational since Saturday and equipped with 2 surgical theatres, the hospital performs about 15 surgical interventions every day, and provides consultations to 150 patients.

“More than half of the patients we are seeing have wound infections or fractures,” says Dr Mark Little, Deputy Medical Leader. “We also see an important number of patients with respiratory infections.”

Coordinating health response

AUSMAT is one of 42 foreign medical teams that the Regional Department of Health and WHO are coordinating in the most effective way to support national emergency health teams in Tacloban and surrounding areas.

“Our priority is to ensure access to health care for everyone through appropriate deployment of available resources.”

Dana Van Alphen, WHO Team Leader in Tacloban.

“Our priority is to ensure access to health care for everyone through the appropriate deployment of available resources,” says Dana Van Alphen, WHO Team Leader in Tacloban. “No outbreaks have been reported so far and we are closely monitoring the epidemiological situation for potential risks.” Even though no disease outbreaks have been reported so far the Philippine Government and WHO are reinforcing prevention by launching a campaign to vaccinate more than 200 000 children against measles and polio next week.

Eduardo Palma is treated in Australian field hospital after spending 8 days with a broken leg in evacuation center in Palo, the Philippines.
WHO/T. Jasarevic

Since the beginning of the humanitarian relief operation WHO has helped foreign medical teams to bring more than 60 tons of medical supplies to Tacloban.

Nine days after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated Tacloban, a coastal city on Leyte island, life is slowly returning as survivors evaluate the magnitude of the disaster.

Bodies are still being recovered under rubble; electricity supplies will take time to be restored and the cleaning task ahead may appear near-impossible in the city where no single structure was left undamaged after the typhoon struck last week.

But things are looking better with the availability of fuel and partial access to clean water. Streets are being cleared and the UN organizations are starting various recovery programmes.

As 4 of the city’s hospitals resumed their work, the focus now is on reaching surrounding municipalities and organizing a transportation and referral system. An emergency immunization campaign against measles and polio is expected to start next week.

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