Typhoon Ompong (known internationally as Mangkhut) made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan, in the north-eastern Philippines in the early hours of 15 September 2018. With sustained wind speeds of more than 205 km/h and gusts of 255 km/h, the typhoon caused flash flooding, storm surges and landslides, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. It is the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year and the strongest since Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) in 2013.
Nearly 193,000 people are taking shelter in 1,900 evacuation centers in five regions: Region I, II, III, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and National Capital Region, while around 26,000 people are displaced and taking shelter in the homes of relatives and friends in Regions I, II, III and CAR. Region II and III are the worst-affected.
Latest Philippine government data indicate that there are 63 reported deaths – 8 are confirmed while 55 are for validation – while 52 are reported missing. The number of casualties may increase based on ongoing assessments.
Immediate health concerns include drowning and injuries, followed by increased mental health needs and potential outbreaks of water-borne and vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly in recognition of the low immunization rates in the affected areas. A wave of vector-borne diseases may also occur in the coming weeks following the storm as mosquitoes breed in standing water and debris.
Nineteen health facilities sustained partial damages but all have remained functional. WHO is paying particular attention to the level of damage to health facilities, as a decrease in access to health services could put people at risk of death, disease and disability from treatable causes such as childhood illnesses and complications during childbirth.
WHO’s response in support of the Department of Health
The Department of Health (DOH) responded rapidly to the typhoon, activating emergency disease surveillance and immediately deploying staff, medicines and supplies to the affected regions.
WHO was prepared to respond even before the typhoon arrived, activating the emergency teams in WHO Philippines and the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office on 14 September. On 15 September, WHO designated the typhoon in the Philippines as a Grade 1 emergency, allowing for the rapid deployment of staff, supplies and emergency funds to facilitate the response.
On 16 September, WHO staff were deployed to the affected area to join partner organizations in conducting a rapid assessment of the health needs of the affected communities and the impact on the health system. The DOH and WHO also co-led a Health Cluster meeting with partners on 18 September. While the Organization’s response will be adapted based on further findings from the rapid assessment, WHO currently plans its support to the Department of Health around the following priorities:
Coordination of Health Cluster partners
Assessment of health risks and needs
Prevention, detection and containment of outbreaks of epidemic-prone diseases
Support for the rehabilitation and continuation of health services
Technical support, including on psychological first aid and risk communication