As part of a trans-disciplinary research team from the Disaster Resilience Lab who are now en route to Tacloban from Cebu, I’m helping the team with real-time health updates until our connectivity drops off.
The health activities are one of the cornerstones of transitioning from crisis to recovery. There are currently hundreds of dedicated individuals from the Department of Health, the Red Cross Movement, and national, local, and international NGOs who are working tirelessly to provide necessary health support.
Here are some updates.
– Children in Tacloban, Guiuan and many other regions have been identified as high risk for malnutrition; there are 37 severe and 183 moderate acute malnutrition cases as of 12 December. Organizations are working to establish outpatient feeding centers and are seeking breast feeding counselors.
– Facilities- many hospitals remain severely damaged some with limited electricity with deliveries at night, others with lack of access to funds for ambulances, and other with lack of access to sanitation for health services. Many rural health units do not have generators.
– As of 6Dec 65 medical teams are still in the country and some have been asked to extend their stays, many are from the Asia Pacific region and also include ICRC, ~12 MSF teams, IMC, Samaritan’s Purse and many others.
– Mental Health and Psychosocial Support systems are being established by the Department of Health, the WHO and MHPSS.NET
While I’m struggling to keep up with my research team by transferring low file size interview protocols, confirming SMS connectivity with the team, reaching out to NGOs in Guiuan with limited connectivity, and updating blogs, twitter, facebook and other social media, I’m encouraging my colleagues in the field to try sleep, take 5 min of break (b/c mental health for all in the field is crucial and an under supported effort) I’m humbled by the dedication, passion and resilience of affected communities and the agencies that go to great lengths to support post crisis countries.