WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

World Vinnies respond to typhoon disaster

World

March 2014

Anne-Marie McCarten

The St Vincent de Paul Society has asked members around the world to join in solidarity in the wake of the powerful typhoon that struck Tacloban, capital city of Leyte province, in the Central Philippines on 8 November 2013.

International President General Dr Michael Thio, made the request on 13 February.

The Society in New Zealand has always been very generous in supporting international disaster appeals for the suffering and displaced brothers and sisters and to date a total of $180,000 has been raised from New Zealand Vincentians. The funds will be administered by the St Vincent de Paul Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD) in conjunction with the Society of St Vincent de Paul in the Philippines.

According to Wikipedia, Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,201 people in that country alone.

Meanwhile health officials in the Eastern Visayas report seeing increased numbers of three infectious diseases in the region of Tacloban, Leyte and other Typhoon Yolanda ravaged areas, according to a Philippine Information Agency report 21 February.

Although the cases of measles, dengue and chikungunya haven’t reached epidemic levels, Dr Carmen Garado of the Department of Health (DOH) says that in Tacloban they have recorded 470 suspected cases of dengue fever with two deaths since the first of the year.

Concerning measles, 180 cases with two deaths were likewise reported during the same period.

Health officials have stepped up mosquito fogging and are educating the public about removing or eliminating mosquito breeding sites.
In addition, the DOH has intensified its measles vaccination efforts.

During natural disasters like typhoons and flooding, most deaths occur due to trauma and drowning. But shortly after the initial damage, problems will be in provisions of clean water, sanitation, shelter, displacement and health care provisions.

In the aftermath of a storm like Yolanda, diarrheal diseases, leptospirosis, mosquito borne infections (like dengue and chikungunya) and respiratory illnesses are common place.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterised by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting up to seven days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days before the rash appears to four days after its appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20 percent of people infected include: seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.

The single best way to prevent measles is through vaccination.

Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called ‘break-bone fever’ because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates there may be 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. However, new research from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust, using cartographic approaches, estimate there to be 390 million dengue infections per year worldwide.

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