Skip to main content

Typhoon creates health crisis in the Philippines

By Jen Christensen, CNN
updated 6:16 PM EST, Mon November 11, 2013
A baby receives a measles vaccine in Tacloban, Leyte province, on Wednesday, November 27. Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in history, has affected 4.3 million people in the Philippines, and many of them rely on emergency relief for food and water. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/impact.your.world/'>See how you can help.</a> A baby receives a measles vaccine in Tacloban, Leyte province, on Wednesday, November 27. Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in history, has affected 4.3 million people in the Philippines, and many of them rely on emergency relief for food and water. See how you can help.
HIDE CAPTION
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Typhoon Haiyan has left survivors needing food, water and medical supplies
  • Relief agencies are worried about disease and infections
  • The geography of the country makes it difficult to reach people on remote islands

(CNN) -- The unprecedented natural disaster that came in the form of Typhoon Haiyan is a potential medical disaster for the Philippines, according to emergency crews on the ground.

The Red Cross says it has ordered 10,000 body bags in preparation for the number of bodies it believes it will have to retrieve. The official death toll, currently in the hundreds, is likely to grow quickly as rescue crews are better able to assess the situation.

What is left behind are some 4.2 million people who have been affected by the storm, many of them injured, thirsty or hungry. The Philippines storm -- some three and a half times more forceful than Hurricane Katrina -- has created serious food and water shortages.

Typhoon Haiyan: 3 days in, little relief for survivors

A man reconstructs his house in the bay of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on November 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction, including more than 5,000 deaths. A man reconstructs his house in the bay of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on November 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction, including more than 5,000 deaths.
Photos: Typhoon Haiyan
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Typhoon Haiyan Photos: Typhoon Haiyan
Destroyed buildings are seen on the Philippines' Victory Island on Monday, November 11. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, wrecked the country on a monumental scale. Click through the gallery to see other aerial shots of the disaster. Destroyed buildings are seen on the Philippines' Victory Island on Monday, November 11. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, wrecked the country on a monumental scale. Click through the gallery to see other aerial shots of the disaster.
Haiyan's wrath from above
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
Photos: Haiyan\'s wrath from above Photos: Haiyan's wrath from above
A mother carries her baby through the debris of destroyed houses in Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, has devastated parts of the Philippines and killed thousands of people. A mother carries her baby through the debris of destroyed houses in Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, has devastated parts of the Philippines and killed thousands of people.
Children among Typhoon Haiyan victims
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Children among typhoon victims Photos: Children among typhoon victims

A second round of deaths may be imminent, given limited food and water, along with pools of standing, possibly polluted water amid a breakdown in ordinary sanitation. Relief agencies are worried about outbreaks of disease and infections in the storm's wake.

"We don't have the full picture yet, but there is a lot of destruction, which means that next to a high number of deaths the possibility of wounds will be high," said Meinie Nicolai, the president of Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders in Belgium. "We worry about more deaths because of infection."

Medecins Sans Frontieres says in the first stage of its recovery efforts, it will work to keep infection rates down and then work to vaccinate people for tetanus. The bacteria that causes tetanus when it enters a deep flesh wound can be deadly.

The agency will also provide ongoing psychological help to the victims of the disaster many of whom will be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Nicolai said.

"People in the Philippines are used to typhoons, but the scale of this is completely unprecedented. People will suffer a lot of trauma from the death and destruction they are seeing and will be scared for future typhoons. We will make room for people to speak with a professional and will set up group sessions where people can talk through their trauma."

People are so desperate for food and water there are reports of crowds breaking into warehouses and stores.

Medical supplies are also scarce. The few hospitals left standing have had to turn people away because they are overwhelmed with the injured. Many people desperate for medical attention have made their way to the airport, where the military is trying to administer medical care.

The World Health Organization is supporting the Philippines Department of Health in strengthening its early warning alert and response network to watch for disease outbreaks and other public health threats related to food scarcity, water contamination and other environmental hazards.

It is also helping the government coordinate the international assistance to make sure the field hospitals and medical teams and supplies go where there is the most critical need, and is re-establishing bases for the supplies that are coming in from all over the world.

USAID, one of the first agencies to reach victims after the typhoon, came with food, water, hygiene kits and sanitation equipment. U.S. Marines have been helping distribute the aid.

Americares has an emergency shipment on the way to the Philippines with enough medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers.

International Medical Corps has pre-positioned medical supplies and a team on the ground offering support. Direct Relief is also sending 1.5 tons of emergency medicine, which also includes antifungal medications and chronic disease medicines.

Getting aid to the victims of Haiyan
Typhoon victim: This is worse than hell
Marines head to the Philippines
Filipino expats desperate for news

C-10's are bringing in supplies from the World Food Programme, which has sent high-energy protein biscuits to feed half a million people.

The World Food Programme has 10 people on the ground already, and they will be setting up bases and getting information to the rest of the World Food Programme hubs to determine how much food and supplies are needed, said Bill Campbell with the World Food Programme.

How Haiyan could teach world how to adapt to extreme weather

The government has declared a State of National Calamity, which among other powers gives the government price controls for goods including food.

The problem at the moment is being able to assess exactly how many people are hurt. Geography complicates matters. The Philippines population is spread over 800 of the 7,100 islands that make up the country.

"We are having to rent boats and helicopters and are trying to do whatever we can to get to the remote areas," Nicolai said.

Medecins Sans Frontieres is one of the hundreds of agencies that has crews on the ground trying to assess survivors' needs; Nicolai spoke as trucks were being loaded outside her office with medical material, tents to create makeshift hospitals, water and sanitation equipment, generators and medical equipment.

The good news, if there can be good news in such a disaster, is that the Philippines does have a medical infrastructure already -- at least compared to the other regions in which Medecins Sans Frontieres works, according to Nicolai.

"That means you do have an educated medical staff with experience there, but we are learning many are missing or dead, so we, like a lot of other groups that are responding, will try and reinforce and help what is there."

How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Typhoon Haiyan
updated 8:12 PM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
A dozen body bags line the street in Tacloban -- one of the towns hardest hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan -- as locals walk through the destruction of what used to be their homes.
updated 3:07 PM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
Cadaver dog teams are on the ground in the Philippines, helping to locate victims still buried in the rubble.
updated 5:02 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
CNN's Airmie Jarin-Bennett, an expat Filipino, returned to her native land after Typhoon Haiyan. Nothing prepared her for what she found there.
updated 11:27 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
As thousands of traumatized typhoon survivors struggled to escape the stricken city of Tacloban, Gina Ladrera was desperate to get back in.
updated 8:49 AM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
Karl Penhaul reports from the middle of the Tacloban devastation using a drone camera to get a bird's eye view.
updated 12:37 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
The USS George Washington is expected to leave the Philippines once two amphibious ships arrive there Wednesday, officials say.
updated 8:00 AM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
Australian Jason Day was out on the course at Royal Melbourne on Monday.
The golf community is rallying around Jason Day after it emerged the Australian lost eight members of his family during the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
The aftermath of Haiyan and the need for aid has celebrities working phones and taking donations. Max Foster reports.
updated 11:26 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
As an expression of hard power, they don't come bigger or more fearsome than the USS George Washington.
updated 3:21 AM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
The tiny, baby girl barely moves as she lies wrapped in a bundle of yellow plastic and green cloth on a peeling brown mattress made for a child far larger than she.
updated 9:04 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
The USS George Washington is on the front lines of the aid mission in the Philippines. CNN's Anna Coren reports.
updated 1:12 AM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
The day after the typhoon, Father Edwin Bacaltos stepped out of the compound of the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in central Tacloban and began his work.
updated 12:33 AM EST, Fri November 15, 2013
Explore stories from typhoon survivors, relief workers, and officials from eight regions across the Philippines.
updated 6:47 PM EST, Sun November 17, 2013
A distraught mother who lost her young sons in the tidal surge of Super Typhoon Haiyan feels her life is over.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Sun November 17, 2013
This video shows how strong the storm surge was during Super Typhoon Haiyan.
updated 9:02 AM EST, Sun November 17, 2013
CNN's Anna Coren reports from Tacloban's airport as Typhoon Haiyan survivors wait to evacuate.
updated 9:21 AM EST, Fri November 15, 2013
The Philippine govt. is defending its efforts against accusations people there are not getting desperately needed help.
updated 2:21 PM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
How charities and nongovernmental organizations from around the world are responding to the disaster, and how you can help them make a difference.
updated 6:54 PM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
The storm affected 4.3 million people in 36 provinces and displaced more than 340,000.
updated 6:33 PM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, left thousands of victims in its wake.
updated 6:24 PM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
Troops and aid organizations help Filipinos struggling to survive the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history.
updated 6:59 PM EST, Mon November 11, 2013
CNN reporters capture sounds and images of Typhoon Haiyan's devastating trek through Tacloban, Philippines.
updated 7:40 AM EST, Mon November 11, 2013
'I was gob-smacked as we made our final approach into the ruins of the airport in Tacloban,' says CNN's Ivan Watson.
updated 9:58 AM EST, Sat December 7, 2013
Flattened forests and flooded villages in the Philippines seen from the air.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT