The Philippines: MSF assists population in areas still completely inundated

The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing medical assistance in six low-lying areas hit by back-to-back typhoons and floods in the Bulacan province in Luzon, the Philippines.

The emergency team composed of medical doctors, nurses and logisticians, conducted medical assessments starting in early October, after typhoons Nesat and Nalgae hit the northern part of the Philippines. Although to date most of the government operated evacuation centres in the affected areas are closing, MSF finds that there are still six areas in the Bulacan province (Bulusan, San Jose, Panducot, Sapang Bayan, St Lucia, Meyto) inundated, with limited accessibility and healthcare provision.

In Bulacan, two MSF mobile teams (including two medical doctors, two nurses and two midwives from the Ministry of Health) run primary healthcare consultations for the affected populations. For patients who require life-saving treatments and hospitalisation, they are referred to the provincial hospital by a 20 minute ride by the ambulances operated by the Ministry of Health.

“We have been taking mobile medical clinics by boat and car to the most vulnerable population still in areas completely inundated, sometimes up to two floors,” said Pierluigi TESTA, MSF Emergency Coordinator. “The team is now paying attention to the nutritional status of children under the age of five years because almost all of the rice crops in the region have been destroyed, including the next harvest. They will also be monitoring for any outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea and leptospirosis [a bacterial infection].”

MSF also conducts epidemiological follow up in relocation centres, and facilitates the proper functioning of the remaining health centres, and fills the gaps of drugs and equipments if necessary.

MSF will continue to assess medical needs in other areas including Hagonoy and Tarlac, and has already visited the district hospitals of Malolo, Hagonoy and Calumpit, where healthcare provision is limited. Other than providing healthcare assistance, MSF is also assessing the need for provision of relief supplies to the affected populations. Eight hundred jerrycans have already been distributed.

With the expectation that another potential tropical depression may strike the Philippines, an MSF team is on the ground to be on standby for further assessments.