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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctors Struggle To Provide Care After Typhoon

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Many hospitals were destroyed or severely damaged in last week’s devastating typhoon in the Philippines. In many cases, the hospitals that are treating patients are trying to rebuild at the same time — without electricity.

NPR’s Jason Beaubien is in Tacloban and joins Here & Now’s Robin Young with details of the continuing relief effort. (See the slideshow above for photos of Tacloban tweeted by NPR’s Russell Lewis.)

“My sense is that this is still a massive disaster—it still has affected a huge part of the Philippines. But my sense is that things are getting better—it feels like things are improving. And, here in Tacloban, what is just so striking is that they have cleared the streets incredibly quickly compared to some other disasters that I have covered. People are out there; people are working … but when you look at what’s happening here, you can see, look it’s going to get done,” said Beaubien.

Meantime, Doctors Without Borders is working to set up medical care on the island of Samar, the first area hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

Dr. Natasha Reyes, emergency coordinator for Doctors without Borders in the Philippines, just returned from Guiuan in Eastern Samar, and joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the current situation.

“The whole town was damaged—I have not seen any house that has had a roof left. Upon assessing the needs, we saw that the people are lacking food, there is some water, but the quality of that is not assured. What is most concerning for me, of course, as a doctor, is that the general hospital which provides care for over 60,000 people has no roof, the x-ray machine has been rained on, so it’s quite devastating,” said Reyes.

Reyes says she and other doctors are trying to get medical care to people who were injured in the storm, but also to people who have chronic conditions — from diabetes to seizure disorders — who may now be forced to go without their medicine.

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