A gray-haired 72-year old woman from Barangay Tabok, Pontevedra in her bermuda shorts, blue Tshirt and blue hat slowly makes her way into the Pontevedra Rural Health Clinic with her left foot and lower leg so swollen that it hurt to simply watch her walk. Her name is Estelita.
Estelita says she has no recollection of how she injured her leg. When Typhoon Yolanda struck their town, their house was completely destroyed. She and her husband along with their son and had to wade in chest-high water to get to some form of shelter from the howling wind and torrential rain. According to Estelita, it must have been while wading through the water that she sustained her wound because a few days later, her left foot became swollen. She had no idea whether her leg grazed a protruded nail or a sheet of corrugated iron or any other sharp object that the water concealed.
Almost a week after the typhoon hit (14 November), she went to the Pontevedra rural health clinic because of the constant swelling, which had reached her lower knee, and unbearable pain in her leg. The clinic administered anti-tetanus shots and gave her antibiotics enough for three days. She was told she had to purchase the rest of the antibiotics as the clinic had no more left in stock. Estelita finished her antibiotics and, having no money, could not buy the rest to finish her medication.
So in the late afternoon of Tuesday, 18 November, with her husband William , Estelita comes into the Pontevedra rural health clinic once more.
Pontevedra is one of the towns in Roxas where IOM has set up emergency health operations to provide relief for overstretched public healthcare systems by augmenting primary healthcare in coordination with AmeriCares, IOM’s health partner in humanitarian emergencies.
As Estelita and her husband walk in, off to one side of the clinic were IOM and AmeriCares, who were handing over two health kits containing essential medicines and medical supplies to the clinic. The clinic now had the antibiotics that Estelita needed! Grateful and smiling, Estelita beams at us radiantly and as we record the moment with photos, calls her husband to come and give her a kiss for the camera.
This blog post was written by Nenette Motus, Senior Migration Health Policy Advisor, Migration Health Division at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and published here . AmeriCares is partnering with IOM on Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.