World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Rebuilding shattered health system an urgent priority

Rebuilding shattered health system an urgent priority in next phase of Typhoon Haiyan response


MANILA, Philippines | 6 December 2013 — One month after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies as top priorities expanding essential health services, reviving clinics and hospitals, preventing disease and scaling up mental health services as the relief effort shifts from emergency to early recovery programmes.

The typhoon, one of the strongest ever recorded, tore through the central Philippines on 8 November, sweeping away villages, killing more than 5,700 people, wreaking havoc on the lives of more than 11 million others and damaging the majority of medical facilities.

From the outset of the disaster, WHO has been working side by side with the Philippines Department of Health to assess and address the life-saving needs of survivors and coordinate the emergency health response.

“Our immediate goal was to help plug critical gaps in medical services and to get the right experts and supplies into the right places swiftly and efficiently,” says Dr Julie Hall, WHO’s Representative in the Philippines.

One month into the crisis, 181 medical teams (65 foreign, 116 local) are delivering critical care in affected areas. WHO has coordinated the distribution of more than 72 tonnes of medicines and supplies to support the relief effort. A mass campaign to vaccinate children under five against measles and polio is underway in storm-hit communities and evacuation centres. WHO and partners have also worked with the government to reactivate disease monitoring and reporting to ensure cases of infectious diseases are quickly identified and responded to.

The risk of infectious diseases remains high, particularly in the crowded and unsanitary environments where hundreds of thousands of homeless people are now sheltering. Infectious diseases like measles, water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and vector-borne diseases like dengue, can thrive in such conditions.

However, the primary reasons people in affected areas are seeking medical care right now are acute respiratory infections, fever, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, skin diseases, new injuries from clearing debris and follow-up care for injuries and wounds sustained in the typhoon.

The medical teams are also tending to on-going health needs, including maternal and child health care. An average of 865 women give birth every day in affected areas, among whom an estimated 15% will experience complications, some of them life-threatening.

With many foreign medical teams preparing to leave within the next month or two and others arriving, WHO is working with the Department of Health to ensure a smooth transition. Dr Hall says it is critically important that gaps in services do not emerge and that international attention and support to the health sector does not wane.

“We must ensure that essential health services are not interrupted and that in the months to come, the Philippine Government as well as humanitarian aid organizations and other key partners have adequate resources to restore health services across the affected regions,” says Dr Hall.

At the one month mark in the crisis, priorities for the health sector include:
Extending and expanding treatment: Providing free primary and emergency health care as Philippine medical services are re-established. Special attention is required for obstetric and neonatal care and treatment of chronic diseases and infections like tuberculosis.

Preventing disease: Strengthening disease surveillance and response systems to inform health care needs and prevent the spread of disease. Other essential preventive measures include increasing coverage with recommended vaccines, pre-positioning supplies for possible outbreaks and improving waste management and water supply.

Restoring health infrastructure and systems: Supporting the Philippine Government as it repairs and rebuilds medical facilities and restores the drug supply and routine health programmes. Health authorities are still tallying total costs, but say they need an initial P 1.4 billion (around USD 32 million) for basic repairs and replacement of equipment and medicines.

Integrating healthcare with other key services: Linking health care with social support programmes, especially mental health assistance. WHO and the Department of Health have trained Filipino health professionals who will in turn train field workers to deliver psychological first aid to typhoon survivors.

“Rebuilding the health system is going to be part and parcel of rebuilding lives and livelihoods in central Philippines,” says Hall.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Whaling: Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research In Defiance Of World Court Ruling

The ICR Today Filed Court Briefs Stating They Intend to Return to Antarctica to Hunt Whales in 2015-2016; Will Seek to Enjoin Other Sea Shepherd Entities from Obstructing Their Operations More>>

Ukraine: UN Urges 'Maximum Restraint' Amid Situation In East Ukraine

Deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for maximum restraint and appealed to all sides to work towards calming the situation, which has the 'growing potential' to ... More>>

United Nations: Children Can Now Lodge Complaints With The UN

GENEVA (14 April 2014) – United Nations child rights experts have hailed a new treaty that allows children to complain directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about alleged violations of their rights. More>>

India: Election But A Ritual In Nation Lacking Rule Of Law

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) congratulates the people of India for their participation to elect the 16th Lok Sabha. The process has attracted, as usual, considerable media attention across the world. Media claims the process to be 'the largest democratic ... More>>

Solomon Islands: Thousands Remain Affected After Flash Floods

An estimated 52,000 people remain affected in the worst-hit areas of Honiara and greater Guadalcanal following last week’s devastating floods which killed at least 23 people. More>>

ALSO:

World: Some 437,000 People Murdered Worldwide In 2012 - UN

Almost half a million people across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, with the highest murder rates logged in the Americas and Africa, and the lowest in Europe, Asia and Oceania, the United Nations Office on ... More>>

Central African Republic:: Security Council Establishes UN Peacekeeping Mission

Deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation and ongoing human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Security Council today approved the establishment of a nearly 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping operation ... More>>

ALSO:

Parliament: NZ Sending Aid Flight To Solomons

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced further support for the response to severe flooding in Solomon Islands. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news