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As we watch in horror and sadness as another natural disaster destroys a nation and its people, we are once again reminded of medical resource shortages following such an event.
With an estimated 10,000 people dead in the Philippines following one of the strongest typhoons on record, doctors are scrambling to take care of the ones who survived. There’s no water, no food, no electricity, bodies in the streets, and scarce medical supplies.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 600,000 people have been displaced, and many of these have no access to food, water, or medicine.
In one hospital, Dr. Francis Visto rode out the storm and is scrambling to protect the supplies that are left, mostly bandages and antiseptic.1
“We tried to salvage what was left in the pharmacy and the emergency room,” Dr. Visto said. Unfortunately, what was left was not enough and the staff was left overwhelmed by the patients they had to turn away due to lack of supplies.
"We were out of resources,” Visto said. “We tried our best but these are difficult times. We did our best to counsel them and help them understand that this is a calamity. Even as doctors we stayed and did not go to our families. We stayed with the patients."
Complicating efforts to receive badly needed supplies, most roads, airports, and ferries are closed.
The World Health Organization said it will be flying in emergency relief experts and emergency health kits this week, and Doctors without Borders is expected to dispatch medical personnel as well.
As with each passing disaster, the best we can do is to learn what we can so that we may be more prepared when the next one hits.