Many Still Struggling in the Philippines

Dec 5, 2013

Stamford-based AmeriCares said it has shipped over $3 million in medical aid to the Philippines, with more to come. 

The emergency relief organization said hospitals and medical personnel in the Philippines are running critically low on even the most basic of first aid supplies like bandages, pain medication, and antibiotics. AmeriCares has dispersed shipments of these supplies to 150 health care facilities throughout the country.

It's been almost a month since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the island nation. The storm displaced four million Filipinos, and claimed the lives of 5,680 people, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and management council.

AmeriCares Emergency Response manager Kate Dischino, based in Tacloban, said there are remote areas of the country still struggling to get basics like food and water. For the rest of the country, the focus is on cleaning up and rebuilding, which Dischino said comes with a new set of problems. "As people are cleaning up their debris," she said, "they are having lacerations, and a continued need for wound care. We are also seeing a bunch of acute respiratory infections. As debris is being pushed off to the side of the road, there is a lot of burning that is taking place, so as the fumes go into the air, you can imagine the respiratory distress that people are in."

As the shock wears off in the Philippines, relief workers like Dischino are hearing more and more heartbreaking as well as inspirational stories from people who survived the storm. "We were talking to a man who was clinging on to multiple children," she said. "After hours of struggle, he had to let one go every few minutes -- very heartbreaking. But you also hear of extreme heroism. We have a bunch of doctors we spoke with who were delivering babies by candlelight during the height of the storm."

Earlier this week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced he will visit the Philippines sometime this month to reaffirm the U.S.'s commitment to helping the country rebuild.