Latin America

Yolanda a year after: Hundreds of clinics not yet repaired

Jee Y. Geronimo
Of the 600 barangay and municipal health stations and hospitals in Eastern Visayas that were damaged by the super typhoon, two-thirds have yet to be repaired, says WHO
NOT SPARED. A Filipino woman runs past patients at the Divine Word hospital in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, Nov 17, 2013. File photo by Nic Bothma/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Only 1 in every 3 health facilities in Eastern Visayas has been repaired one year after Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the region, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, October 29.

WHO Representative in the Philippines Julie Hall told a press conference that about 600 health facilities in Yolanda-affected areas “sustained fairly significant damage,” but repair in two-thirds of these has yet to begin.

The health department earlier said that most of the damaged facilities are barangay health stations, followed by rural health units, and hospitals. 

“The majority of those are now providing services, but the way in which they are doing that is often and still under very temporary accommodations. There are still quite a number of tents, tarpaulins, and quick fixes, but we’re allowing the services to continue, but the facilities themselves have not been fully repaired,” Hall said.

When asked about the speed of rebuilding health facilities, Hall said it is “not bad,” considering the extent of damage that the typhoon caused.

She however noted that the real time to ask the question is in another year’s time.

She even said it is “quite remarkable” that in just one year, comprehensive health services are already available across Yolanda-affected areas.

Mapping health facilities

Hall also lauded the Philippine government’s guidelines on building back safer and stronger health facilities which has already been developed years before Yolanda. 

“The Philippines…in terms of its guidelines was ahead of many countries in the world. The government guidelines are very consistent with the WHO ones,” she said.

She noted how important it is for a major hospital to be the last building standing during disasters.

“That has been incorporated into the rebuilding of the major significant hospitals,” Hall said.

It is also important that no health facilities will be rebuilt in no-build zones – areas where building of infrastructure should not be permitted because of their vulnerability to landslides, flooding, or storm surges.

For the past year, WHO has been mapping where all health facilities are, where people have stayed or relocated, and where the no-build zones are in the Yolanda-affected areas. 

Hall said the information is already being used by the government to determine which health facilities will be rebuilt, and which will not. It will also help in refining rehabilitation plans, and in allocating government resources.

Momentum for rebuilding

Since majority of foreign aid funding and support is expected to end by December 2014, Hall said government funds will play the bigger role in most of the development work moving forward.

“We hope the momentum for rebuilding will continue and that those health facilities that have not yet been repaired, the repair work begins on that,” she said.

Hall said it will take 2 to 5 years for all Yolanda-affected areas to “regenerate and be rehabilitated.”

“We are looking to continue our support to the government to make sure the energy, the momentum, the funding, [and] the engineering work continue, so that all the facilities are built back and built back in a way that can withstand future typhoons,” she added.

WHO received a total of approximately $17 million from international donors. The amount was spent on different needs, such as medical equipment, medicines, quick repairs of health facilities, training for health workers, and policy support.  – Rappler.com


See related stories: 

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.