Lucky under the circumstances - the worst circumstances in 40 years

by Ruth Bücker,  2011/10/08

After not only one, but two typhoons hit Luzon, the main island of the Philippines, destruction in the affected regions is immense. A few days ago, a first humedica mission team set out for the disaster region and since then has been offering medical treatment to the victims of the floods and deluge. Although in some areas water levels are already falling once more, our help is still needed urgently, confirms coordinator Dieter Schmidt from the Philippines.

The roads rather look like rivers. Many regions on Luzon, the main island of the Philippines, are still only accessible by boat or lorry. Photo: REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

"In some places water levels have fallen once more, but most of the affected towns and villages are still only accessible by correspondingly large lorries or boats", reports the experienced disaster coordinator. "I was told that this has been the worst flood since the beginnings of the 70ies."

But nevertheless, the people consider themselves lucky under the circumstances. Typhoon "Nalgae" had raged during the day, from morning until evening. The inhabitants of the Philippine island could therefore escape the floods and the water did not take them by surprise at night.

"Most of the people who lived in the affected regions could either escape to relatives, find shelter at evacuation centres or seek refuge on the roofs of their houses", describes the humedica coordinator. "Everything that could be saved was carried along to places as high up as possible.

Even now you can still see children, women and men sitting on the upper floors or simply on the flat corrugated iron roofs together with their chickens, geese and dogs."

Together with local employees of the partner organisation Operation Blessing Philippines, the two doctors Dr. Irmgard Harms and Dr. Philipp Fischer, assisted by nurse Nancy Schmidt, treated 200 patients even on their first working day. They worked in tents that were set up in a location that was a little higher up and dry, since it still tended to rain now and then.

"We could work very efficiently, and thanks to the excellent cooperation with Operation Blessing we could start our work immediately after our arrival", describes the also very experienced mission team member Irmgard Harms. "The majority of patients were women and children who consulted us with respiratory and skin diseases.

And even on the first day we lived through a very special moment that made me even happier about our presence than I had already been before. We were there when a woman collapsed unconsciously and remained lying on the floor with her pulse so weak that it could hardly be felt anymore. Our emergency doctor Philipp stabilised her circulation and she could be taken to a hospital."

Hardly any of the huts could withstand the force of two typhoons. Photo: REUTERS/John Javellana

Without our fast medical intervention, the woman probably would not have survived this collapse, Irmgard Harms adds thoughtfully.

During the next few days, the humedica team will offer first basic medical treatment to the victims of the typhoons at changing locations. They will offer fast intervention in cases of emergency and furthermore implement prophylactic prevention measures against a looming leptospirosis epidemic.

The doctor from the Allgäu region explains that leptospirosis is a severe infectious disease that is similar to jaundice accompanied by influenza and can be fatal in some cases if not treated appropriately. The pathogen is carried by animals and passed on to humans among others by way of urine in polluted, stagnant water as exists frequently during floods.

Please help us to continue our relief efforts. Support our relief measures in the Philippines by means of a donation. So far, the broad public is not yet aware of the extent of these relief measures in the country. Thank you very much.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Typhoons Philippines
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a secure, fast and simple way by means of sending at text message: Simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. By doing so, you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4,83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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