Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on November 22, 2013

Labels: The Philippines , Disaster-Relief


Philippines Typhoon Haiyan

Members of the HOPE family,

“Most of Daan Batayan (north of Bogo City) looks post-apocalyptic; trees uprooted, tree limbs stripped of their leaves, palm trees snapped in half. Most of the non-cinderblock homes were destroyed and most of the homes in this area were non-cinderblock. Power lines lay across the streets, power is not expected to be restored until around Christmas-time. Corrugated roofing material lies everywhere, twisted heaps of metal sheeting is everywhere. On the road between Bogo City and Daan Bantayan children and the elderly beg for food from passing vehicles.”

These were the opening words of the report I received early on Wednesday morning from our Assessment Team leader, Scott Crawford, HOPE's Director of Gifts in Kind, Global Health.  After visiting several sites affected by the typhoon, Scott wrote: “It is worse than I thought it would be,” and then, with characteristic HOPE spirit, provided a detailed first-hand observation of both the devastation and the need, gained from his team’s travel through two regions.

In less than a day, Scott, Dr. Sheldon Nasaruddin, HOPE’s Country Director, Indonesia and Dr. Dalibor Tasevski, the Senior Medical Advisor and Deputy Regional Manager traversed nearly impassable roads to visit hard hit areas of Cebu, north of Manila. Under extraordinarily difficult conditions the Project HOPE team is focused on assessment, determining where and how HOPE can be most effective now, and for the long haul.

And, in the short time that they have been on the ground, they are also insuring that HOPE is making a difference.  Already our team has:

  • Overseen the unloading of more than $1 million in critically needed medicines and medical supplies shipped by HOPE from our distribution facility in Winchester.  The shipment will go to the Cebu region.

  • Attended meetings in Manila led by the Department of Health and WHO and officially registered with the Philippines Government as a participating agency in disaster response.

  • Toured the devastation in and around Bogo City and the Daan Bantayan District and visited Hospitals in and around the area.

“The health facilities are packed with people lying on benches and floors waiting to be seen. In Bogo City District Hospital the birthing ward has 3 women per bed. The Israeli Military has set up a MASH facility in front of the hospital and treats the overflow from the main facility. The hospital in Bogo City and the In Daan Bantayan District Hospital are in very poor condition, this certainly was the case prior to the storm and now the situation has deteriorated.”

Project HOPE's Scott Crawford assesses medical needs in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan

Pictures sent back by the team underscore Scott’s words, I’ve included one that shows Scott conducting his assessment at the Bogo City District Hospital.  The list of needs is seemingly endless:

  • Over 390,000 pregnant and lactating women need specialized services for pre-natal, post-natal and child health care, as well as health promotion and family planning services.

  • The risk of outbreaks of diarrheal diseases and measles is substantial given the lack of safe water and sanitation, displacement and overcrowding, and sub-optimal vaccination coverage.

  • The need for essential and emergency health services and treatment for chronic conditions is increasing in affected areas.

  • Urgent lists from the Hospitals include every imaginable type of equipment and supplies, from cribs and stretchers to surgical gloves and sutures.

“The staff in these facilities is surprisingly positive in attitude and spirit, obviously a resilient bunch from having to deal with so many tropical storms, typhoons and earthquakes, in very difficult circumstances. In the three facilities visited by the team all said they would welcome volunteer Doctors and Nurses and were almost surprised to see us, saying that very few charities had been by to talk with them and even fewer came back to offer any real assistance.”

As Scott and the Team focuses on assessment, and the delivery of urgently needed supplies, a second HOPE Team, led by Fred Gerber, Director of Special Projects and Matt Peterson, Director of Volunteers has just arrived in Manila, to coordinate, through our longstanding relationship with the U.S. Navy, the Philippines Government, and The US Agency for International Development, HOPE’s participation in the overall medical response efforts.  In a message this morning, Matt described their immediate plans in this way:

Project HOPE staff in Philippines assesses humanitarian needs

“Our Advance Party arrived in Manila, Philippines Wed 20 Nov 13 to establish a Forward Operating Base for the reception of HOPE's Main Body of volunteers into Philippines. Additionally, HOPE senior medical liaison personnel will fly via C-130 to Tacloban and then via USN helicopters to join key Joint Task Force 505 command and control elements aboard the USS COWPENS (Operations Flagship) and one additional amphibious ship on 22 Nov 13 to provide front line liaison with USN. We will [tour the devastated areas]… accompanied by a HOPE Bereavement Team, Emergency Medicine, Health Facilities Assessment team and Healthcare Emergency Management trainers. During these site visits, as we are qualified as Expert Field Medics, we will assess needs and capabilities across the disaster affected area.”

HOPE is, at heart, an organization driven by the extraordinary generosity, talent, skill and commitment of its volunteers – and as always, the quality and effectiveness of our response will depend in large part on them.  As so often happens, I am astounded by the collective expertise of the first deployment of HOPE volunteers. From logistics to trauma care and social work, this group is experienced in each phase of disaster response, and some of them have prior experience with the US Navy.  They will lay the groundwork for a well-organized process of volunteer rotations in the weeks ahead to ensure that future deployments reflect the most pressing medical needs of survivors of this tragedy.  For a complete list of volunteer opportunities in the Philippines, visit our website.

Our corporate and foundation partners and our individual donors -- through the mail, by phone and on-line -- have been so very generous.  To date we have raised over $1.5 million dollars.  Equally important to our success is the energy, dedication and expertise that each of you have brought to advancing this effort.  Your commitment today will have a lasting effect on the health of the people of the Philippines as we strive to bring them lifesaving medicines, medical training and health education for the future.

I thank you for your continuing support!



P.S. For more images from the Assessment Team, visit our Philippines webpage to view the slide show.

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