Field Report: Meeting Immediate and Long-Term Health Needs on Panay Island

Large scale response addresses immediate and long-term health needs

Brian Hoyer, director of AmeriCares post-emergency programs and a member of our Haiyan response team, worked with our partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Panay Island in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan to help meet the immediate needs of survivors. 

“The typhoon cut directly through Capiz and Iloilo provinces on the island,” said Brian. “In some coastal areas, up to 95% of structures were lost – including many health care facilities. Our immediate support included providing emergency medicines, supplies, and access to electricity at key health units. We worked side-by-side with local health authorities to help quickly fill urgent gaps.”

AmeriCares distributed 10 emergency primary care kits for delivery to several hard hit areas in Capiz and Iloilo.  The kits included enough medicines, antibiotics and medical supplies for an estimated 300 patient consultations.

“The kits were delivered to health facilities in Pilar, and Pontevedra municipalities and to mobile medical teams working in the outlying islands of Panay municipality where health facilities have been completely destroyed,” said Brian. “An additional supply of 40 more kits, tailored to meet the changing health needs, were prepared overnight and sent to Iloilo Province for use at Buenavista, Carles, an island about a one hour by boat from the hard hit town center of Estancia, as well as Lumbia, another remote area on the eastern coast.”

One survivor, 72-year-old Estelita from Tabok, Pontevedra, received the antibiotics she needed to heal a severe foot infection she sustained after the storm.

We have benefited greatly from AmeriCares and IOM support which was delivered as promised.” Dr. Nolasco, Physician in charge at Pilar Rural Health Unit in Pilar Municipality.

For weeks following the storm, power outages throughout Capiz and Northern Iloilo continue to disrupt healthcare for many communities.

“Nurses and midwives at the Regional Health Units explained that they are concerned to continue with routine child immunizations because they have no nighttime electricity to power a refrigerator used to store vaccine,” said Brian. 

In addition, health units designed to accommodate labor and delivery had to turn women away for referral to the overcrowded district or regional hospitals to give birth. 

“To fill this urgent need, we were able to quickly procure four generators,” explained Brian.  “We delivered the first two to Pilar and Pontevedra health units on November 23 followed a few days later by two additional generators to other outlying health centers.”

Brian continued to work on our long-term response strategy together with our partner, IOM, establishing a recovery project whichincludes the restoration and expansion of primary health care services in Capiz province.  This project has since served as one model for other affected areas.

“From the very early days of AmeriCares’ response, we included the perspective of recovery,” explained Brian. “For example, our support in Western Visayas region has been modeled with the pre-existing primary health care system in mind.  Instead of establishing a new parallel structure, we worked with IOM to reinforce primary care centers in key areas.”

The next stage of support includes physical repairs to several damaged health centers, along with enhancing local health systems with a focus on emergency care and primary health.”