Philippines: WHO helps partners get typhoon-injured patients to specialised care

December 2013

WHO is helping national and international teams coordinate medical care for those who need it, such as Lovely Yape, whose upper leg was fractured by a falling tree during the typhoon.

“I am getting text messages from my friends wishing me good luck,” says Lovely Yape, with a smile on her face. The 16 year-old girl from the town of Guiuan is waiting to undergo surgery on her injured leg this week in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Philippines.

Lovely had her upper leg fractured by a falling coconut tree branch the day Typhoon Yolanda hit Guiuan at Samar Island. “I was very worried as I was not able to stand up and it was hurting a lot,” she says.

A 16 year-old girl from the town of Guiuan, with her sister, is waiting to undergo surgery on her injured leg in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Philippines.
WHO/T. Jasaraevic

She spent two weeks without receiving any medical attention as Guiuan was one of the hardest places to reach for national and international emergency medical teams.

She was found by the Belgium team of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) as they were treating her mother for head injuries.

MSF rapidly contacted the WHO office in Cebu to inquire about referral options. “When we received the call, we checked with the main referral hospital in Cebu, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, to ensure that the patient could be received,” recalls Dr Lester Geroy, WHO deputy team leader in Cebu.

Lovely was then flown to Cebu by a MSF-chartered helicopter and admitted to the referral hospital on 26 November. After the surgery, she will need 3 months to fully recover. Lovely and her older sister, who is taking care of her in Cebu, are impatient to go back to Guiuan to their friends and family.

Coordinating referral process and operations

“Since 8 November, we have received 284 patients from affected areas, 99 of which were admitted for longer treatment.”

Dr Gerardo Aquino, medical director of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Philippines.

“Since 8 November, we have received 284 patients from affected areas, 99 of which were admitted for longer treatment. The majority of patients had injuries but lately we are seeing patients with other health concerns,” says Dr Gerardo Aquino, medical director of the hospital.

“Our doctors have made additional efforts to provide assistance to all people referred to us. We also sent two medical teams with 24 staff to Tacloban two days after the disaster,” adds Dr Aquino.

Cebu became a hub for a number of national and international medical teams on their way to the worst-affected areas. “We have had 38 national and 40 international organizations either operating from or transiting through Cebu. WHO is supporting the Department of Health in coordinating these teams” says Dr Geroy.

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