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July 26, 2014

DOH recognizes 'unsung' heroes of Typhoon Yolanda

The Department of Health (DOH) recently gave tribute to the “Unsung Heroes” of typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) for their contributions in helping the victims and families affected by the strongest cyclone to hit the Visayas region last year.

Here's from the Department of Health:

The Department of Health (DOH) today recognized the efforts of all the brave souls who have dedicated their time, services, expertise and resources to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (internationally named Haiyan).

“While we acknowledge that our help and support to Yolanda-affected areas is far from ceasing, at the moment there is some breathing space for us to pause and reflect, and to modestly acknowledge those who have been our partners in relief assistance,” Secretary Health Enrique Ona said.

It is appropriate that recognition is given to local government units, local health teams and volunteers, DOH regional hospitals and offices, and, especially, to foreign partners who went out of their way to extend every help they can.

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda was recorded as the strongest in Philippine history. It was accompanied by monstrous winds and storm surges (10-15 feet) which smashed into coastal communities before leaving the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on November 9.

Initial report on November 8, revealed that a total of 26,675 families or 125,604 persons were affected in 33 cities and 73 municipalities in 22 provinces. A total of 109 evacuation centers were initially established. The cyclone caused catastrophic destruction in the Visayas, particularly Samar and Leyte, to which, according to UN officials, about 11 million people have been affected and left homeless.

However, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), revealed that there were 6,201 deaths and 27,665 injured. Most of the fatalities came from the three towns of Tacloban, Palo, and Tanauan, Leyte. Most of the injured suffered from cuts, wounds and fractures during the disaster while others were injured in flooding that followed the typhoon. Furthermore, 1,785 persons were reported missing. Extreme damage to infrastructure greatly affected the transportation of relief goods and the communication lines.

After the immediate provision of food aid, clean water, temporary shelters, and basic medical care, the original concerns over basic needs shifted to those on infectious disease, malnutrition, childbirth problems, mental health issues, and the needs of those with chronic diseases.

Stories were told. The team from Albay, one of the first to arrive, came in total darkness of Sunday, November 10, after traveling by ferry from Matnog and by land to Tacloban. The team from NCR was deployed and their goods supply was left behind in Cebu. This team had trouble eating for 2 days, living on cookies and dole outs from other groups.

“To the almost 9,000 medical/health responders from about 222 institutions and agencies, including the 351 medical teams both local and foreign, thanking you is an understatement. The DOH is indebted to all of you,” Ona concluded.

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