Health situation in Tacloban, other areas deteriorating

November 23, 2013

Countless people line up for relief goods in Tacloban City. (Pher Pasion)

Countless people line up for relief goods in Tanauan, Leyte. (Pher Pasion)

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte — With the devastation of the city and other areas wrought by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), health workers fear the worst for people’s health.

Aldin Bagon, resident doctor at Divine Word Hospital (DWH), said that an epidemic of diarrhea, fever, wound infections, respiratory infections are likely to be expected in the coming days if the city remains uncleaned. When he was interviewed by Pinoy Weekly more than a week after the typhoon struck, cadavers remained in the streets, many of which were still unrecovered probably under tons of debris.

“Water contamination is inevitable and air borne diseases are likely to occur. Without clean source of water, people’s health is at great risk,” Bagon said. The unpleasant smell emanating from the debris is also a concern, especially to those who are already having respiratory problems like asthma.

Hospitals and other health facilities were among those destroyed by the typhoon. Lack of medicine adds up to the worries of health care people as the destruction caused by Yolanda have spared no one.

During the typhoon, the said hospital lost seven patients confined in intensive care unit (ICU), according to Bagon. He said they stopped admitting patients on November 9 as they lost most of the hospital facilities including its MIR, laboratories, and pharmacy.

During the evening of November 15, an 88-year-old woman was rushed at DWH but the doctor was forced to recommend the patient to another hospital because they lack the apparatus and oxygen for the patient.

“We are in need of medicines. If outbreak will occur due to unclean environment it will be very difficult for all of us,” Bagon said.  He said they need alcohol, cotton, betadine, anti-tetanus, and antibiotics among others.

Francis Gomez, a doctor from Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital based in Albay and one of those deployed in Tacloban to help typhoon victims, said the government needs to address the lack of food and clean water for the people. If not, their health will be put at risk, especially for children.

He said, to have a healthy body is badly needed to combat infections and other diseases. If nutrition is inadequate, people’s health will be vulnerable to diseases.

“Personally, there is a slow distribution of relief goods. The local government on the other hand is slow in cleaning the city. The city is still dirty until now,” Gomez said.

Gomez added that all relief goods related to health go to Department of Health (DOH) and the DOH will be the one to distribute the medical goods.

Bagon said they are thankful for outside support, both from local and international centers. Medical teams from Davao Regional Hospital and Southern Philippines Medical Center came for reinforcement. Medical teams from South Korea and Israel also came to assist them.

Outside help is but temporary. Korean volunteers said they will just be staying for two weeks. Gomez estimated that it will take more than three months to address the health situation of the city of Tacloban alone.