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Typhoon-battered RP appeals for int’l help

By Amy R. Remo, Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:55:00 10/11/2009

Filed Under: Foreign Aid, Disasters (general), Pepeng, Ondoy

MANILA, Philippines ? With government resources stretched to the limit after the country was hit by two successive typhoons, the Philippines has had to appeal to foreign countries and international aid and humanitarian agencies for assistance.

The Japanese government has given $4.5 million (P210 million) for typhoon relief operations through the World Food Programme, the largest foreign assistance yet since Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro issued a flash appeal for aid to the international community in the wake of tropical storm ?Ondoy? last September 26.

The WFP said the money would be used to buy 6.7 million kilograms of rice, enough to feed 670,000 people for one month.

Part of the donation will also be used to mobilize three emergency relief choppers for relief sorties over the next month, said Stephen Anderson, the WFP Country Director in the Philippines.

The WFP said it urgently needed $26 million to provide food assistance, air services, logistical support, and emergency telecommunications to one million of the worst-affected.

In addition to the helicopters, WFP has been airlifting other urgently needed supplies and equipment into the country in recent days.

Total of $10M in int?l aid

Besides Japan, other donors who have so far contributed to the WFP?s flood relief efforts in the Philippines included UN CERF ($3 million); Spain ($2 million); Australia ($1.7 million) and ECHO ($600,000).

Teodoro said the Japanese donation raised the total international aid to around $10 million, excluding in-kind donations from other countries like Spain and Jordan.

?They?ve been a big help. It is substantial and right now, they assist us not merely in providing relief but also with the systems [mobilization],? said Teodoro.

The United States military also continues to provide airlift for relief operations in affected provinces. Teodoro said a US C-130 cargo plane delivered some 29,000 pounds of food to Batanes on Friday, while 10 Chinook choppers continued to ferry relief goods around northern Luzon.

The Taiwan Embassy in Rome has donated 10,000 euros through the Pontifical Council ?Cor Unum,? the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office said in a statement. The donation is in addition to the $50,000 turned over earlier by Ambassador Donald C. T. Lee, the Teco representative, to Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral. The Taiwan government is also sending two medical missions to the Philippines, the Teco statement said.

WHO warns of outbreaks

The World Health Organization yesterday announced a P26-million emergency health response assistance as it warned of an outbreak of measles, leptospirosis and hepatitis A among tens of thousands of people displaced by Ondoy.

With the P26-million assistance through the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the WHO said it will help the Department of Health prevent worsening health conditions in the most affected areas and help affected health facilities to resume essential operations as soon as possible.

The WHO said the emergency health response assistance will target affected families in Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon).

?WHO is on the watch-out for an increase in cases of measles, leptospirosis and hepatitis A. Mental health and psychosocial support are also priority concerns,? said Dr. Soe Nyunt-u, the WHO representative for the Philippines.

Children who suffer from measles may experience complications including pneumonia, encephalitis, blindness, deafness, ear infection, diarrhea and dehydration.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection when open wounds are exposed to contaminated animal urine usually found in floodwaters. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches and vomiting, and may include jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rashes.

Hepatitis A, a highly contagious disease, is an infection of the liver caused by a virus from taking contaminated food and water prepared in unsanitary conditions such as in evacuation centers.

The floods have damaged many hospitals, clinics and barangay health stations making them inaccessible to patients. Medical equipment, supplies and medicines have also been destroyed while many health workers have been unable to work since their homes were also affected by the floods.

At least 16 DoH-run hospitals in Metro Manila and nearby provinces sustained damage in infrastructure and equipment worth at least P670 million. The Amang Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Marikina City, one of the most affected cities, sustained the worst damage worth about P380 million.

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