In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated thousands of people whose lives were uprooted by the severe storm. In response to the crisis, humanitarian aid partner Direct Relief provided immediate medical assistance through Baxter’s on-hand pre-positioned products, which help ensure critical supplies are first on scene following disasters and tragedies.
Three years later, the impact of the disaster is still evident in the carved-out destruction over a wide area. Through the support of the Baxter International Foundation’s $175,000 donation to Direct Relief for long-term recovery efforts, communities are continuing to rebuild and re-establish critical healthcare infrastructure to provide care for those who are most in need.
The majority of healthcare facilities in the typhoon-affected areas of the Philippines – from primary care facilities to tertiary level public hospitals – had been severely damaged or destroyed in the typhoon, and affordable healthcare services have remained extremely difficult to obtain for many of the affected population. In the Samar provinces, long plagued by high levels of poverty and poor health indicators in maternal and reproductive health, child health, and communicable and non-communicable disease, the lack of access to healthcare services has meant an increase in morbidity and mortality for Filipino residents struggling to reconstruct their lives.
“Healthcare needs were incredibly great following the typhoon, ranging from immediate critical trauma cases to the common, yet important, primary healthcare issues we often take for granted,” said Gordon Willcock, PhD, emergency preparedness and response manager at Direct Relief. “I have a son, and through this project I think about how many times I’ve taken him to the doctor for every day healthcare needs, and it’s hard to imagine not having those resources or just a safe place for children’s’ health. That’s why the support from Baxter International Foundation for this project was so instrumental in making a real difference.”
Direct Relief worked with partner organization Health Futures Foundation, Inc. (HFI), a non-profit organization involved in the design and management of health and social development programs in the Philippines, to help identify locations and establish functioning health clinics as part of the long-term recovery project. The efforts supported by the foundation focused on rebuilding Barangay Health Stations (BHS), which are primary community healthcare and birthing facilities estimated to serve more than 20,000 residents in the affected regions.
"The tragic nature of disasters like this and the need to expand medical services in an area that doesn’t typically receive adequate emphasis or resources was an opportunity for us to help improve access to care in a more permanent and fundamental way."- Alice Campbell, senior director, global community relations at Baxter
Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation are dedicated to sustaining access to healthcare in communities through public and private partnerships, and the project with Direct Relief is helping to increase and expand healthcare capacity and services for these communities that were so significantly impacted by the typhoon.
“The tragic nature of disasters like this and the need to expand medical services in an area that doesn’t typically receive adequate emphasis or resources was an opportunity for us to help improve access to care in a more permanent and fundamental way,” said Alice Campbell, senior director, global community relations at Baxter.
The healthcare facilities will also target prevention, identification and treatment of community members with hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and chronic renal disease. The objectives of BHS complement the Philippine Department of Health’s Universal Health Agenda, which will provide full health security for the communities through 100 percent insurance coverage, availability and accessibility of healthcare professionals, delivery of health services, healthcare governance and utilization of digital health information services.
“Despite the immense destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan, this grassroots level effort to build infrastructure and services that are also sustainable is truly remarkable,” said Gordon. “Each facility built has a huge impact – taking a poor, rural community and providing its residents with access to modern healthcare allows them to envision a new future.”