Project HOPE medical volunteers are now arriving in the Philippines, and they are getting to work at Tapaz Municipal Hospital, which was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan and has no electricity or water. Tapaz is a municipality in the province of Capiz in the center of Panay Island. According to the 2010 census, Tapaz has a population of more than 48,000.
In Tapaz, there are few, if any trees left standing. Many roofs are torn off, and all electrical wires are down. It may be at least four months before any electricity is available in the area. Tapaz District Hospital serves a large swathe of the damaged area. Because it is more remote than other hard-hit areas, it remains underserved by the international relief organizations responding to the Philippines. The Provincial Health Department requested that Project HOPE tackle the needs of Tapaz as soon as possible.
Tapaz Municipal hospital is a 25-bed community hospital, one of five referral hospitals on Panay Island. At this site, Project HOPE will have four 21-day rotations of 30 health professionals over the next few months, followed by additional rotations of more focused teams of specialists to address long-term health system challenges as needed.
Six volunteer health professionals from Massachusetts General Hospital are now on the ground in Tapaz, and they are at work at Tapaz Municipal Hospital. At this site, the Project HOPE volunteers are providing primary care, reproductive health services and other hospital staff augmentation. Additional HOPE volunteers are now en route to this location.
When we asked where we could help the most, the authorities in the Philippines were all consistent with their answer, “Camotes Islands.”
In the Camotes Islands, a group of three major islands and one islet, distance and difficult lines of communication have placed inhabitants at risk. The small district hospital on Panijan Island sustained significant damage and the small health staff are in need of assistance. The District leaders in this area have asked for help reconstructing a birthing center on each of the Camotes islands. We are now working to start a second volunteer site on Panijan Island.
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