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U.N. Appeals For $74M To Provide Emergency Assistance In The Philippines; Health-Effects Of Other Natural Disasters

Several news outlets published articles about the health-related effects in the aftermath of natural disasters around the globe:

  • The U.N. on Tuesday launched an appeal for $74 million “to provide emergency assistance to hundreds of thousands of victims of two catastrophic typhoons that have struck the Philippines in less than two weeks,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 10/6).

Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the U.N.’s humanitarian coordination office (OCHA), said, “We are today launching a flash appeal … to bring assistance to one million people following the typhoons that struck the Philippines,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/6). “U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said the appeal is seeking money for food, water, sanitation facilities, emergency shelter and health care for those worst affected by Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma,” the Associated Press writes. Holmes said the appeal is “intended to cover the needs of a million people for three months” (Lederer, 10/6).

According to AFP, the WHO said that at least 16 health facilities have been damaged and “U.N. agencies warned of the threat of waterborne diseases” (10/6). The Philippines said it will soon start importing rice to make up for the shortages caused by the storms, the BBC reports. Though the government “usually imports large quantities of rice … it is likely to begin importing it earlier than usual this year because so many crops have been damaged” (10/7). In the aftermath of the storms, UNICEF said it is “concerned about the risk of epidemics and their potential impact on children and lactating women. [The agency] says it has delivered hundreds of hygiene kits and is disseminating information about best hygiene practices,” VOA News writes (10/6).

President Barack Obama issued a statement to convey “condolences” to the country, AFP reports. Obama noted that USAID has so far allocated $1.8 million in response funds (10/6). Reuters published a “breakdown of more than $17 million worth of humanitarian aid promised and sent so far” to the Philippines (10/7).

  • In Samoa, UNICEF “is preparing for a mass measles vaccination and vitamin A” campaign for 11,000 children, ABC Radio Australia reports. “Infectious diseases could easily take hold in a disaster-hit community, and UNICEF has offered the Samoan government the immunisation option.” The story includes an interview with Philip Mann, who is responsible for UNICEF’s health and nutrition program in Samoa (10/7).
  • Reuters AlertNet examines the situation in Vietnam after “Typhoon Ketsana hit the country’s central coast, killing at least 163 people and displacing 150,000.” According to the news service, “disease and hunger loom as flood waters stagnate and thousands of people remain cut off from help.” The number of diarrhea and malaria cases has increased and some clinics have run out of drugs. The article includes information from aid workers on the ground (Dmitracova, 10/6).  

  • In Indonesia, “[f]oreign medical teams” went deeper into the disaster zone Wednesday, “treating victims of last week’s massive earthquake but also dealing with crowds wanting help for other illnesses,” the AP reports. According to the news service, “West Sumatra had no functioning health system even before the quake and an influx of international aid has prompted all sorts of people to seek help.”

Yoshi Kazu Yamada, the deputy head of a Japanese medical team, said, “At first it was flesh wounds, but now it is more people seeking help for chronic conditions like diabetes … These problems were not caused by the quake but they need care. Our facilities are free so people are coming from all around the region — people who would not have gone to see a doctor before” (Talmadge, 10/7). IRIN examines the trauma and stress experienced by earthquake survivors. The article also explores the impact on children (10/6).