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    As millions remain affected, experts warn a health crisis awaits cyclone-hit Philippine

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    As millions remain affected, experts warn a health crisis awaits cyclone-hit Philippine

    The cyclone that hit Philippines has affected millions and could give rise to a medical emergency. Now, people are having to depend on a local river to do their daily chores since the cyclone has disrupted essential services. 

    After counting the dead and the injured and the loss of housing, Philippines is now realising the long-term impact of Super Typhoon Rai.

    7.3 million people have been affected by the cyclone and of these, the international aid organisation Oxfam says that over 3 million people had been affected directly affected by the cyclone. 208 people died in the disaster, according to the Philippine National Police.

    Locally named Odette, the cyclone hit the Philippines on 16 December 2021, ravaging islands and coastal communities in the east and flooding towns and cities across the country.

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    “It is our first time to experience such strong winds brought by the typhoon and it devastated almost all of the households,” said Maas in City Mayor Nacional Mercado.

    Pictures of the community posted by Oxfam showed residents have resorted to bathing and doing laundry in the river because electricity and water supply have been severely disrupted.

    Mayor Mercado said their city only had one casualty since most residents evacuated before the typhoon made landfall but 1,677 houses were totally destroyed and 2,182 were partially damaged.

    Oxfam and its partner humanitarian groups distributed Philippine Peso 4 million to 2,650 families in the province of Eastern Samar as a pre-disaster financial aid before the cylone struck. This was meant to help families prepare food, water, medicine and transportation to evacuation centres.

    International donors have rushed in, but the resources available is just a fraction of what is actually required.

    A health crisis in the making 

    Another organisation, the Red Cross, is ramping up urgently required emergency healthcare and also working to provide clean water to prevent severe illness and death from diseases like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.

    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned of a mounting health crisis in the eastern Philippines after Super Typhoon Rai destroyed hospitals.

    Oxfam and the Red Cross and various other organisations warn that waterborne diseases like gastroenteritis and acute watery diarrhoea can follow the cyclone if water and sanitation facilities are not restored immediately.

    There have been more than 400 cases of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis in typhoon-affected areas, with 141 health facilities damaged by the storm, according to Philippine Government agencies.

    But the needs are huge, given the scale of the disaster. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross told OWSA, “We are urgently sending more health teams, hygiene kits and resources, including safe water supplies and water filtration systems to Siargao island, Cebu, Palawan and Bohol, to prevent the further spread of disease.”

    Is a food crisis unfolding

    Leah Payud, Oxfam Pilipinas’ Resilience Portfolio Manager, likened the impact of Super Typhoon Rai to that of Super Typhoon Haiyan (also called  Yolanda locally) in 2013. That cyclone had caused especially widespread damage agriculture, in turn affected the lives, livelihood and the food security of the people.

    Payud spoke of her memory racing back to 2013 when many areas were unable to receive adequate resources.

    “Many areas here in Leyte and Southern Leyte are badly hit by the typhoon and need immediate attention. People are struggling to find food, water, and other necessities. People who had cash had to line up for more than three hours to withdraw,” Payud said.

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