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November 13, 2013 - Los Angeles, Calif. – Following catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, International Medical Corps has deployed a ten-member international Emergency Response Team that includes medical professionals and water and sanitation experts. The organization has also recruited 40 local medical volunteers to staff mobile medical units (MMUs) in and around the hardest-hit coastal towns of Tacloban and Tanauan. Through the MMUs, International Medical Corps will deliver health care services, with a special emphasis on child and maternal health; nutrition monitoring; medication; clean water; hygiene awareness and promotion; and psychosocial support and training for frontline health care workers.
Typhoon Haiyan left widespread devastation, affecting 11.3 million, including 673,000 displaced people. Due to contaminated water, there is a high risk of infectious disease outbreaks and medicines, shelter, food and drinking water are among the greatest needs. In addition, there is a high risk of maternal and neo-natal morbidity and mortality as many health facilities and birthing clinics have been destroyed or damaged. Approximately 8,000 births are expected in the first month alone. International Medical Corps is rapidly scaling up health services to meet the growing humanitarian needs.
“Now is the stage of impact mitigation to save lives – to keep those already healthy, healthy, and to attend to people in distress. Both medical and social interventions are needed,” says Noel Miranda, Philippines Emergency Response Team Leader, International Medical Corps. “Physical reconstruction of infrastructures and homes is huge and expected to be a difficult task. There is still a long journey ahead for relief and recovery.”
Haiyan, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, knocked out power and communications, destroyed hospitals and health facilities, and disrupted supply chains and basic essential services in many areas. Access remains a key barrier to providing humanitarian support, with local airports out of operation, and key roads impassable. Many areas in the path of the storm are still recovering from a recent 7.2 earthquake that hit the region on October 15, increasing the risk of casualties and worsening potential destruction. The recent earthquake had already stretched national emergency response teams, leaving the potential for a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
International Medical Corps has been a first-responder to numerous natural disasters in southeast Asia, including Cyclone Phailin in India in October, the tsunami in Japan two years ago, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, International Medical Corps’ mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster, and disease, by delivering vital health care services and sustainable development projects that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning hardest-hit populations to self-reliance. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org. Also see us Facebook and follow us on Twitter.