Typhoon Haiyan humanitarian and health activities are a crucial part of disaster response. Here are briefs on health activities and key principles that guide health responders in humanitarian settings.
Why principles? Some of the most difficult lessons learned in humanitarian disaster response have stemmed from good intentions with unintended outcomes. Principles well established by organizations such as the ICRC, the Sphere Project, and others are there to ground all those involved during very difficult, often unfamiliar and highly pressured environments. Whether it’s a humanitarian practitioner with an international NGO, local NGO, policymaker at the UN, or a volunteer with good will, these principles help all those involved “do the right thing” while aiming to “do no harm”
The right to life with dignity-
According the the Sphere Guidelines there are 2 core beliefs: “first, that those affected by disaster or conflict have a right to life with dignity and, therefore, a right to assistance; and second, that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of disaster or conflict”
There is also the widely accepted
Principles of Conduct for the International Red Cross & Red Crescent Movement & NGOs in Disaster Response
10 points of principle
- The humanitarian imperative comes first.
- Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone.
- Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint.
- We shall endeavor not to act as instruments of government foreign policy.
- We shall respect culture and custom.
- We shall attempt to build disaster response on local capacities.
- Ways shall be found to involve programmed beneficiaries in the management of relief aid.
- Relief aid must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic needs.
- We hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we accept resources.
- In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we shall recognize disaster victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless objects.
Who’s there right now?…or Who has been there and now responding?
22 Philippine Medical Teams
The Department of Health in the Philippines has sent 22 teams from various regions of the country (Regions X, CARAGA, VII, V, IV-B, Bicol Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Medical Center and Metro Manila Hospitals). This is crucially important as these health providers are familiar with the regional context, healthcare system, and speak the local languages and dialect.
Philippine Red Cross & the ICRC
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is a part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and works closely with the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC). In existence since 1964, they have dedicated Disaster Management Services and Community Health and Nursing Services. They were involved in preparedness activities, providing survival tips, helping evacuate communities prior to the event, and providing early warning messages. Volunteer and staff from the local and national chapter are working to provide relief supplies. The ICRC is collaborating with the PRC in Samar Province where they have been working for many years with issues of armed conflict. Local and in country organizations have faced transport challenges, where the ICRC began distributions of relief supplies on Nov 6th and faced significant road delays.
MSF-UK (Doctors without borders)
MSF UK has a series of teams in the Philippines, comprised of physicians and many logisticians & nurses supporting existing health facilities as well as mobilizing water and sanitation services, which is core to their mission of providing“assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict…irrespective of gender, race, religion, creed or political convictions… (and) observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance.” more information here: