The World Health Organization (WHO) currently supports health authorities and partners in coordinating the health response to affected communities following Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) in the Philippines.
The focus of the health response is establishing an early warning system for epidemic-prone diseases using the Surveillance in Post Emergency and Extreme Disaster (SPEED) system. Other priorities include providing mental and psychosocial services and supporting partners in delivering basic health needs in affected communities.
Typhoon Pablo is the most powerful storm to hit the Philippines in 2012. It passed through the southern Philippines from Mindanao to Palawan, resulting in a significant loss of life and affecting basic infrastructure, such as water supplies and safe shelter. In the longterm, further damage could affect public health through the disruption of health systems and leave many without access to health care.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), as of 13 December 2012, the typhoon has left 902 dead, 2661 injured and 934 still missing. It has also affected 528 750 families (5 474 313 persons) in 30 provinces (1946 barangays) in Regions 4B, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and CARAGA. The total number of people served inside and outside evacuation centers reached 181 564 families (765 530 persons).
The Government of the Philippines has declared a State of National Calamity through Proclamation No. 522, dated 7 December 20120. The declaration covers 50 provinces, municipalities and cities in Regions IV-B, VII, X. XI and CARAGA. Initial rapid assessments and government priorities indicate dire needs for food, shelter, camp management, water and sanitation, protection and restoration of livelihoods.
Many people are currently in evacuation centres where increased overcrowding can lead to communicable disease outbreaks. There is also an increased risk of typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, measles and influenza-like illness, as well as other diseases associated with displacement of people, overcrowding and improper waste management.
WHO has deployed staff to the areas most affected and coordinates the information management and response of the health cluster partners. The Organization is also ready to augment the need for medicine and basic medical equipment for damaged health facilities, in coordination with the health cluster organizations.