Typhoon Haiyan: “Unprecedented” Disaster


Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency coordinator in the Philippines Dr. Natasha Reyes describes the devastation brought by Typhoon Haiyan and what the medical needs are now.

“Right now we’re operating in a relative black hole of information. We know from the very little we can see that the situation is terrible. But it’s what we don’t see that’s the most worrying. The reports we’re receiving from Tacloban are that the entire city of 400,000 people has been devastated.

But there are hundreds of other towns and villages stretched over thousands of kilometers that were in the path of the typhoon and with which all communication has been cut. To be honest, no one knows what the situation is like in these more rural and remote places, and it’s going to be some time before we have a full picture.

Unprecedented Disaster

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Latest Updates

  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>MSF emergency teams have been in Cebu (the Philippines' second largest city, with the nearest fully operational airport to the disaster area), since Saturday November 9. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>MSF is strengthening its team with an additional 50 people including medical personnel, logisticians, and psychologists arriving in the next few days. Operations are currently based in Cebu, but teams will be going to Tacloban and to islands west of Cebu. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>We expect to see fractures and lacerations/cuts. It is important that people receive treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications and infections. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Many medical structures have been damaged or destroyed, with medical supplies washed away. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>There is a massive lack of information on the situation in rural and remote areas. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>We expect to have a medical team on the ground tomorrow, 11/12/13, in Tacloban, a town devastated when the typhoon first struck the coast. That team will include two doctors and an orthopedic specialist. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Transport links to the Tacloban area have been seriously disrupted, which has made access particularly difficult. Tacloban airport is badly damaged and roads are blocked. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Information on the situation west of Cebu is still very limited, but with the extent of the damage in this area it is believed that the main needs will be shelter, water, and food. MSF teams are currently organizing supplies of drugs, medical equipment, and materials to purify water, as well as essential items such as plastic sheeting, cooking supplies, and hygiene kits. Teams will also monitor possible outbreaks of infectious diseases. 
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>MSF is also sending 329 tonnes of medical and relief items which will arrive in Cebu within the next few days in three cargo planes. The planes are leaving today and tomorrow (11/11/13 and 11/12/13), two from Dubai, UAE, and one from Ostende, Belgium. The humanitarian cargo includes medical kits for treating the wounded, material for medical consultations, tetanus vaccines, and relief items such as tents and hygiene kits. A further shipment of water and sanitation equipment will follow. Additional cargo is being prepared to leave later this week from Bordeaux, France, with an inflatable hospital and medical material.

 

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