Philippines: MSF teams reach affected areas of Samar and Masbate

MSF teams were able to reach the most affected and remote areas of Samar by helicopter yesterday afternoon. Two teams assessed the cities of Dolores, Arteche and Gamay, in the north east side of the island.

In Dolores the city had learned from the devastation of last year’s typhoon Haiyan, with the entire population evacuated days in advance and food stockpiled in preparation. The Department of Health (DOH) had reported only two casualties with a further 68 injuries. There were reported cases of children suffering from acute watery diarrhoea, fever and an increase in measles. DOH teams were preparing for outbreaks of measles and water borne diseases such as dengue fever. Most of the city had been reached by the DOH, including the island barangays (villages). There was damage to some infrastructure and housing. One island barangay was reported to have only four houses left standing, while the city’s new public hospital (which had yet to be moved into) also suffered minor damage during the typhoon. The two  existing city hospitals are both functioning. As of Wednesday, the city had no electricity or communications.

It was a similar situation in Arteche and Gamay, with both areas evacuated in preparation for the typhoon. The medical needs were again quite minor, with some reports of upper respiratory infections, fever and cases of diarrhoea. There were some damages to buildings and houses. In Arteche the hospital and rural health unit were both functioning. The Gamay hospital was also functioning. In both areas electricity was down, with generators being used. There were no communications in either city and water was being sourced by pump.

It was assessed that there is no need for a surgical intervention from MSF.

Another MSF team reached the island of Masbate on Tuesday. Again, evacuations were done days before the typhoon hit. There were no fatalities, with only minor injuries such as lacerations, cuts, punctures. Some damage to houses/buildings. The team will now travel to Samar to assess the North West side, finishing at Catarman.