Via The Lancet: Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines faces long road to recovery. Excerpt:
The death of 3-day-old infant Althea Mustacia on Nov 16 might have been avoided had ventilators been working at a public medical centre in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines's Leyte province. Establishing sustained respiration for the infant who had asphyxia after birth was tragically hampered, however, after power lines went down across the entire region in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit central Philippines on Nov 8.
Filipino health officials say that most hospitals and health facilities in the typhoon-hit areas are seriously damaged. In Tacloban, in the worst-hit province of Leyte, only one public hospital remains functional following Haiyan (one of the strongest storms ever recorded), according to Gloria Balboa, a regional director at the Philippines Department of Health (DOH). “Now we have to rely on private facilities and some additional hospitals set up by international groups”, she tells The Lancet.
Balboa is in charge of monitoring the health situation in several disaster areas. She says that, in Eastern Samar, the Australian Government has been deploying teams, while international aid continues to arrive. “However, all the hospitals and facilities are not working. And there are fewer medical staff in Eastern Samar, compared with Tacloban.”
Although some of the affected people were able to move out, those who have no choice but to stay will face tougher challenges in the near future. Balboa says that the sanitation conditions are worrisome due to the shortage of water. “We are expecting diarrhoea and other infections”, she says.
According to DOH, risk of diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses, leptospirosis, and influenza outbreaks remains high. To prevent water-borne outbreaks, DOH has been coordinating efforts with humanitarian groups and local governments to provide adequate, clean water through water filtration machines.
Humanitarian groups face similar sanitation challenges. According to Allison Gocotano, Assistant Projects Officer at Health Futures Foundation, who helped provide basic medical services in a temporary shelter set up in a school in Guiuan, Samar province, about 100 evacuated families have just two toilets to share between them.
“Water and sanitation are going to be potential problems unless camp management is well established”, he says, adding that the lack of power and regular communication lines makes it much harder to organise people and get things done.
The Lancet also has a thoughtful editorial: The Philippines: learning lessons from past disasters.