Philippines

One year after Typhoon Haiyan

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19 December 2014

APHEDA donors helped the health volunteers from our Philippines partner organisation reach over 7,000 patients during six medical and relief missions in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

On November 8 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, a category 4 storm with winds registering up to 320 km per hour, struck the Philippines. It is considered the strongest tropical storm ever recorded to hit land. The disaster left more than 8,000 people dead with thousands still missing. Of the almost 4.1 million people living in the affected areas, 280,968 families or almost 1.2 million people were rendered homeless.

Electricity, water, communications and transportation were all paralysed and 600 local and district level health centres and hospitals were partially or totally destroyed.

APHEDA's partner organisation response

Between November 2013 and September 2014, our Philippines partner, Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) took part in six medical and relief missions providing essential medical treatment for 7,666 patients and distributing emergency relief packs to over 10,000 families.

"Months after the calamity struck, people [were] very angry at what the government had not done. The assistance provided by APHEDA was very crucial in providing immediate relief sorely needed by the people and communities," said COMMED Director Dr Julie Caguiat.

To assist with psychological recovery, COMMED also held 44 group psychosocial therapy sessions with 1,969 people - mainly mothers, children and the elderly.

Dr Caguiat also explained some of the stresses being felt by survivor; "A lot of patients seen had stress related symptoms and illnesses, including inability to sleep well, hypertension, muscle aches and pains, and hyperacidity. A contributing factor is the damage done to their livelihood, destruction of their agricultural produce including vegetables and coconut trees".

Livelihoods destroyed

The region's agriculture was severely damaged. Coconut and banana crops and fishponds, which provide livelihoods and food for many families, were hard hit.

All the coconut fields in Leyte, Biliran, Eastern Samar and Western Samar were damaged - 60% were knocked down completely, and the other 40% remained standing but were stripped of fruits and leaves. It will take up to three years for standing trees to become productive again. Where the trees were knocked over it could take between 7-10 years to restore coconut production.

Bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava and vegetable crops were also wiped out. The cost to fisheries is estimated at over AUS$160 million.