Philippines - ReliefWeb News
MANILA, 20 March 2014 — Rebuilding the cold chain infrastructure, which was severely damaged by Typhoon Yolanda last November, has been a shared priority for the Philippine Government, the United Nations Children's Fund, (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
When Typhoon Yolanda struck, Leyte and Eastern Samar were among the hardest hit areas, with Tacloban City bearing the brunt of the damage. Health care infrastructure was severely damaged; and cold chain equipment and vaccines were destroyed.
Cold chain is a system used for keeping and distributing vaccines in a condition that retains its ability to give protection against disease. The cold chain consists of a series of storage and transport links, which are all designed to keep the vaccine at the correct temperature until it reaches the user, namely children and mothers in need of immunization. With most of the cold chain in the typhoon-affected areas being destroyed, more than 1.8 million affected children are at risk of disease and death.
UNICEF and WHO are supporting the Philippine government to re-establish its national immunization programme in Yolanda-affected areas, and make it disaster-resilient, providing equipment that will be able to withstand future calamities.
UNICEF will assist 450 DOH health care facilities at different levels by providing them with earthquake and typhoon resistant cold chain equipment; including 5,000 temperature monitoring devices, 4,000 vaccine carriers, 800 cold boxes, 400 back-up generator systems, 150 ice-lined refrigerators, 50 solar-powered refrigerators and 200 Sure Chill freezers running on an innovative cooling technology, allowing them to operate for more than ten days without electricity. Additionally, 16 walk-in cold rooms for vaccine storage will be constructed at the regional and provincial levels, supported by three million doses of measles-rubella and oral polio vaccines. Based on in-depth assessment of short term requirements for routine immunization in affected regions, the equipment donation is budgeted at US$8 million.
WHO together with UNICEF has also trained health workers to improve vaccine and cold chain management.
Within the third week of this crisis, WHO delivered 16 solar powered vaccine refrigerators to key points in Leyte to enable autonomous storage of vaccine stock replenishment from the Department of Health's warehouses. These refrigerators were supplied by DFID (Department of International Development) U.K., and flown directly from Oxfordshire to Mactan International Airport in Cebu on board a Royal Air Force C17 transport jet. From Mactan, WHO logisticians transported the solar powered refrigerators to Tacloban via a Korean Air Force C130 transport. Even without electric power or generator sets, these self-contained devices restored the cold chain capability of some parts of Leyte, thereby enabling the DOH (Department of Health) to conduct its mass immunization effort in late November.
WHO also provided a million doses of measles/rubella vaccine for the DOH program, along with AD mixing syringes and safety boxes, and two domestic refrigerators for use in Tacloban. As the power outage caused by the storm also affected the cold chain of earthquake-stricken Bohol province, WHO provided key areas with necessary equipment such as iceline refrigerators, icepack freezers, chest type cold boxes, vaccine carriers, icepacks, 6KVA electric generator sets, and other supplies.
Still in the pipeline from WHO are 66 icepack freezers, 4,500 safety boxes, 88 cold boxes, 300 vaccine carriers, Measles/Rubella test kits and laboratory equipment, temperature monitoring devices. A second delivery of vital hospital equipment requested by the infectious disease referral center, the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila is soon to follow the donation given last January. As the lead agency in the Tacloban health cluster, WHO oversees the disease monitoring activities in the province to ensure prompt response to any brewing disease outbreak.
Together with WHO and partners, UNICEF conducts the symbolic hand-over to the Department of Health (DOH) in Tacloban City today. These agencies plan to establish the cold chain first in Tacloban; and then expand the program across the typhoon-affected area.
"The needs on the ground remain great. The risk of disease outbreaks is ever present, and so far only half of affected communities have seen their health centres reopen," said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines Representative.
UNICEF and WHO will focus on supporting DOH in building capacity for primary health care for community health workers, and establish a mechanism for quick surge in local health capacity in future emergencies and support local units of DOH to strengthen emergency preparedness, response and recovery capacity.
"The objective is to build capacity, reduce risks and increase resilience so all children can thrive today and stay confident for the future." she added.
WHO Representative in the Philippines Dr Julie Hall stressed the importance of building back better when ensuring that health infrastructure, which includes services, facilities, and equipment for the most vulnerable populations is present, as this is an essential step in guaranteeing healthy and capacitated communities.
"Exploring alternative technologies such as the use of solar energy, is a wonderful way of promoting resilience for these communities, considering that calamitous events such as Typhoon Yolanda can occur at any time. Ascertaining that such capability is in place is a positive way of placing health at the heart of healing for the communities in the Yolanda corridor," Dr Hall continued.
The new “Department of Health Strategic Plan to strengthen its capacity to respond to Mega Disasters (2014 to 2016)” was presented at a Health Partners Meeting on 26 March 2014.
A formal turn-over ceremony of immunization equipment from UNICEF and WHO to the Philippine Government was held at the Sagkahan District Health and Birthing Center in Tacloban City on 20 March 2014.
Several capacity-building activities on the Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (PIDSR) system are currently being implemented across the affected areas.
The comprehensive stock-take of the available maternal and child health services, facilities and human resource in the disaster affected areas was concluded on 28 March 2014 and has covered most of Region VIII.
The municipality of Loon has officially declared an outbreak of Chikungunya and new suspect cases are being reported.
16 generator sets to support the cold chain have been delivered to the WHO office in Bohol and will be distributed to health care facilities in the coming weeks.
Philippines - IOM has teamed up with the Philippine Air Force and Navy to help families displaced by Typhoon Haiyan in November to return to their home provinces after months living in tent cities.
The typhoon, which claimed over 6,000 lives and displaced over four million people, forced many families to leave the worst-hit islands of Leyte and Samar in search of protection and shelter on neighbouring Cebu island.
While some people had already made their own way back, 34 families needed assistance when a Cebu tent city closed last week. IOM in Cebu arranged for them free transportation on Philippine Air Force planes and Navy boats.
On Sunday morning, Air Force flights began to take groups back to Tacloban City from where they were then transported onward overland to their homes.
The flights were interrupted by severe weather due to a tropical storm. Consequently six families had to instead be taken back by ferry. Once back in their home provinces, the returnees receive financial assistance from local government.
A further 17 families decided to stay in Cebu. Most have already found employment, with the support of the local chamber of commerce.
Marco Boasso, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Philippines, commented: “After months away from home, families are going back to their provinces to be with relatives and work on rebuilding their houses and their lives. IOM is committed to supporting the Philippine Government in ensuring their safe return.”
For more information please contact
Marco Boasso IOM Manila Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Manila: In a simple signing ceremony UNDP and UNICEF have officially confirmed their agreement for the implementation of US$ 3.5 million for waste management in Typhoon Yolanda affected areas. The project will be implemented by UNDP with funding provided by UNICEF.
Abdul Alim, Representative ad interim, on behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Maurice Dewulf, Country Director, on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed the agreement.
The signing was witnessed by the UNDP Administrator and UN Development Group Chair, Helen Clark, and the UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho. Through the signing, the agencies committed to finalizing the full project agreement in the shortest time possible.
“We are very pleased to have started this unique partnership with UNICEF on this issue,” Dewulf said.
“Waste, when not properly managed can adversely affect the environment and thus children and their health,” said Alim. “This is why this initiative is so vital. It is also a good example of interagency collaboration within the United Nations in the Philippines,” he added.
Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck some of the poorest parts of the Philippines. Managing the mountains of debris left by the storm and the subsequent waste have been challenging with municipal systems severely affected.
UNDP launched a debris management programme within weeks of the disaster, which to date has provided emergency employment for about 40,000 people. They were each employed for up to 15 days, earning much-needed quick cash, while participating in the clean-up of their communities helping communities to return to normalcy. Mountains of debris have been cleared that enabled to start functioning again 15 hospitals, 220 rural health units, 666 schools, 588 daycare centers, 629 municipal government buildings and 200 other essential public infrastructures.
The new funds committed by UNICEF to this programme will help boost the vital waste management work.
For further information, please contact:
For UNDP: Lisa Hiller-Garvey, Mobile +63 (0) 9175147983, email@example.com; Anna Mae Lamentillo; +63 (0) 9175068700, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Philip Castro +63 (0) 9175986139, email@example.com;
For UNICEF: Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +632 901 0177, Mobile: +63 917 867 8366, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Marge Francia, Communication Officer, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +632 901 01 73, Mobile: +63 917 858 9447, email@example.com
About UNDP The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org
Please visit UNDP Philippines Facebook and Twitter.
About UNICEF UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work please visit www.unicef.org.
Philippines: Australia and UNDP reaffirm partnership to help promote resilience and recovery in the Philippines
Manila: The Government of Australia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed yesterday two new partnership agreements, reaffirming their commitment to help promote resilience and recovery in the Philippines. The first agreement reaffirms their joint commitment to continue assistance to the Philippines in reducing people’s risk to disasters across the country, while the second agreement commits to working together to provide technical expertise to support typhoon-recovery efforts across the Visayas.
The two agreements were signed by the Ambassador of Australia to the Philippines, Bill Tweddell, and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Luiza Carvalho. The signing was witnessed by visiting UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, and the Minister Counselor of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Layton Pike.
UNDP has a long standing partnership with the Australian Government in promoting disaster risk reduction in the Philippines. Yesterday’s signing also reaffirmed this partnership with the Government of the Philippines in developing socio-economic and land use planning guidelines that integrate disaster and climate considerations, producing multi-hazard and risk maps and disaster risk information, and assisting local governments and communities reduce the impact of natural disasters.
The Australian Government and UNDP also confirmed their intentions to support the Government of the Philippines’ Typhoon Yolanda recovery efforts by deepening their technical assistance partnership through the Australian Civilian Corps. The Philippines is one of the most at risk countries in the world for natural disasters. Comprised of over 7000 islands, situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and in the Pacific typhoon belt, the country ranks second in the world in annual risk to people from earthquakes and cyclones. It experienced 270 natural disaster events in the past two decades – more than any other country in the world.
In Manila : Lisa Hiller-Garvey, Mobile +63 (0) 9175147983, firstname.lastname@example.org; Anna Mae Lamentillo; +63 (0) 9175068700, email@example.com; or Philip Castro +63 (0) 9175986139, firstname.lastname@example.org;
On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan tore a path of destruction across the Philippines. While the emergency response was successful in providing life-saving assistance, three months on, humanitarian needs remain enormous, especially with respect to the restoration of people’s livelihoods. A lack of robust early recovery programs has left hundreds of thousands of people reliant on aid, and points to a broader problem regarding the overall efficacy of the UN’s early recovery approach to large-scale, sudden-onset natural disasters.
In addition, a proposal by the Philippine government to enforce “no build zones” in typhoon-affected coastal areas in the wake of the disaster has left thousands displaced and raised numerous legal and human rights concerns. While progress has been made in recent weeks on revising the policy, the failure of the UN Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator to take up the issue from the start resulted in confusion on the ground, slowed the response, and denied adequate protection to thousands of vulnerable people.
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) consolidates and affirms the understanding and commitment between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro islamic Liberation Front (MILF), herein referred to as the Parties.
Joverime Regis put her three young sons to bed on November 7, 2013, knowing that sometime early the next morning, a typhoon would hit the city the where she lived, Tacloban. For the last several days, meteorologists on the news had been warning that Typhoon Haiyan might be the biggest storm to ever strike the Philippines. However, like her neighbors around Tacloban, and Filipinos in other parts of the country, she was used to typhoons and knew that the high winds would bring some destruction.
Powerful winds pummeled Tacloban throughout night and only grew stronger as day broke. By then, seawater began to fill the home where Joverime lived with her sons and parents—a quarter mile inland. With each passing minute, the water rose higher and higher and then, suddenly, a wall of water came—the “storm surge.” Joverime and her neighbors had heard the people on the news saying those words but they did not know what the words meant.
“Storm surge,” an abnormal rise of sea level caused by high winds and exacerbated by geographical factors, was not a common occurrence in the Philippines. This day, however, a 20-foot ocean surge, pushed by winds gusting up to 235 mph and amplified by Tacloban’s gently sloping coast, traveled more than a mile inland, tearing houses from their foundations and dragging massive cargo ships ashore.
As the water rushed in, a family member kicked over the refrigerator in the kitchen and tore off the door. Joverime threw her three sons into the refrigerator including five-year-old Jansen, who was born with cerebral palsy. As the refrigerator began to float away, Joverime grabbed one side with her right arm and held on to the cement wall of an outhouse with the other. When the water subsided an hour later, all of Joverime’s family had survived. Jansen, however, who could not comprehend what had happened, was left deeply traumatized.
Shortly after the typhoon, Handicap International mobile teams were on the ground in Tacloban, searching for the most vulnerable survivors, especially people with disabilities and disabling injuries. The teams traveled from neighborhood to neighborhood, asking local leaders for the names of people with disabilities, and then going door-to-door or tent-to-tent to find and assess them.
In early December, a team found Joverime and Jansen. They saw that Jansen, who had never received treatment for his cerebral palsy, spent most of his days laying in bed and rarely went outside. Joverime had to carry him everywhere, and had a hard time doing even basic housework because of the amount of care and supervision Jansen required. Life was tough for the whole family, even before the typhoon wrecked their home.
Two weeks later, a Handicap International team returned to the family with a wheelchair and arm and leg braces for Jansen. The wheelchair was made specifically for small children with cerebral palsy and was designed with a rugged frame and wheels to navigate rough terrain. With the chair and braces, Jansen was able to sit upright with his arms and legs fully extended for the first time in his life. A Handicap International occupational therapist also taught the family how to do exercises with Jansen to help relax his tight muscles.
In late February, Handicap International Physical Therapist Iris Fortuna and Project Officer Anna Celeste Alaon visited the family to see how Jansen and Joverime were adapting.
“Jansen’s personality changed with the wheelchair because now he can sit outside in the sun and be around other children—he’s so jolly,” Joverime told Iris and Anna. “He shouts and smiles when the other children play around him. It’s easier for me now because I can do work around the house knowing he’s secure in his chair. I can also take him to the hospital and other places more easily now that I don’t have to carry him.”
Outside, Jansen sits in his chair surrounded by children from the neighborhood. There’s still a lot of storm debris laying around, but the streets have been cleared and people have made creative use of some of the objects. There’s a festive holiday tree made of multi-colored bottles, and soda cans serve as nursery pots for sprouting vegetables. A cacophony of hammers rings through the air as men build frames for new houses and nail down sheet metal to new roofs. The children, meanwhile, focus on who can fly their handmade kites the highest. Jansen looks upward and yells with delight as the kites dance in the sky above.