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MSF teams assessing the situation in the northern Philippines as typhoon Parma loops back

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical doctors and logisticians are currently assessing the situation on the main island of Luzon, Philippines, as typhoon Parma continues to rain on the northern Philippines. Authorities fear new landslides and floods as heavy rains and strong winds are still prevailing in the area.

Two seven-person MSF teams are currently assessing affected regions in the north and are carrying out medical consultations as they move from place to place. One team is heading east of the town of Claveria, the other south to Ilocos. Almost two weeks after tropical storm Ketsana hit the Philippines, large parts of the city of Manila and surrounding areas are still underwater. Despite the quick and efficient response of the authorities, some remote areas are still without support.

MSF teams have been focusing on the harder to reach areas, such as Laguna Bay to the south east of the city and have been conducting mobile clinics for people who have been unable to access government health structures. In total, eight MSF doctors sometimes travelling to areas by boat have provided more than 800 medical consultations.

“The main pathologies are diarrhoea, fungal infections of the feet and legs, and respiratory tract infections. The stagnant water and disruption of the sanitation system could cause health problems and we need to continue monitoring it closely,” said Oifa Bouriachi, MSF’s emergency coordinator.

Although the situation has stabilized near Manila and water levels are slowly dropping, nearly 340,000 people are still sheltering in more than 500 evacuation centres. Some flooded areas could take months to subside. So far, MSF teams have provided more than 3,000 hygiene kits as well as equipment to improve sanitary conditions in the evacuation centres. Meanwhile, MSF has sent 22 tons of material to Manila (non-food items such as blankets, jerry cans, and hygiene kits) and MSF teams plan to remain in the area to monitor the situation closely and respond to any developing needs.

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Project Update 25 November 2009