Nearly two weeks ago Typhoon Haiyan, perhaps the strongest storm on record, ravaged the Philippines. Survivors in the hardest-hit parts of that island nation are still in need of the most basic supplies, like food, water and shelter. On Wednesday, Philippine officials estimated the death toll from the storm at 4,000.
Stamford, Connecticut-based AmeriCares has been in the Philippines since the day after the typhoon, delivering medical supplies, and helping to rebuild hospitals.
WNPR's Ray Hardman spoke earlier today with AmeriCares Emergency Response Manager Kate Dischino, based in Manila. She has been to some of the most devastated parts of the Philippines. Ray asked her about the devastation she has witnessed, the safety of AmeriCares workers, and how relief efforts are progressing. "There is so much need," she said, "and we are in a position to move the right things to the right place at the right time, and that's exactly what people in the Philippines need right now."
AmeriCares is working to meet the immediate health need of disaster survivors, Dischino said, to restore primary health care. "That's our mission in the first couple of days and weeks of in any kind of response," she said. "We're working to coordinate with other organizations, both government and other international and local organizations. I've also been to some of the most devastated parts of the Philippines. Some of the things we're seeing are people that are just in desperate need of basic medicine and medical supplies."
Dischino said a man repairing his home cut a finger, and bandaged it with a wrapper and a rubber band. "Not having a basic bandage is pretty common in these most devastated areas," she said. "I made a visit to one of the only open hospitals in Tacloban, and the most common reason people were seeking consultation are for wound care, acute respiratory infection, and basic fever. Headache is the most common reason were seeing."
This relief effort is especially challenging, Dischino said, with the most devastating circumstances she has seen in any disaster situation. "Some of the things that are most complex about this circumstance," she said, "are the logistics. The Philippines are multiple islands to begin with, and adding shortages of fuel and debris in roads are making the situation more complex." Shipping supplies to affected areas takes a lot of logistical planning. "We've been lucky to move shipments and staff by air, sea and truck," she said, "so we've been able to get most of the equipment and supplies into some of the most devastated areas that are hard to reach. The people are extremely resilient. In some of the communities, they've taken proactive steps, and are not waiting for help, by finding scraps of debris and starting to rebuild their homes."