Fieldset
Life in a hospital hit by Typhoon Haiyan

This is the story of a hospital but it could be the story of a country trying to recover after a devastating natural catastrophe.

Eugenie Nicolas-Ortega shows pictures of her hospital right after the Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippine archipelago.

This is the story of a hospital but it could be the story of a country trying to recover after a devastating natural catastrophe.

Eugenie Nicolas-Ortega shows pictures of her hospital right after the Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippine archipelago.

“This is a 75-bed capacity hospital covering five municipalities,” says Nicolas-Ortega, director of the facility.

“The typhoon destroyed all the wards, the roof and the laundry area. Only the front of the hospital is functional.”

Eleven days after the disaster, she looks at the most affected areas of the hospital, located in the district of Burauen, in Leyte. In the aisles, iron beds and mattresses lie next to garbage. You can only hear the sound of water drops falling from the ceiling.

“In preparation of the typhoon, we put the computers and some equipment in plastic bags,” says the head of the hospital, without taking her eyes off the damage caused by the storm.

MSF Philippines

MSF emergency doctor Víctor Fernández sees a patient with respiratory problems in Burauen hospital. ©Agus Morales/MSF

  The hospitals have been badly affected by the catastrophe: 47 out of the 115 health facilities assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the region are not functional. On top of that, it is taking some time for the health workers travelling to centres in the rural areas to go back after the typhoon. The lack of drugs, especially in the more isolated facilities, paints the picture of an island hit by the logistical difficulties to get supplies.

MSF Philippines typhoon

46-year-old Rocabo Florencio sutained a head injury during Typhoon Haiyan. Now he can’t walk and he complains of a pain in his low back. He is now a patient in Burauen district hospital supported by MSF. ©Agus Morales/MSF

The hospital exudes activity. Always with a smile on her face, Nicolas-Ortega walks relentlessly within the hospital, back and forth. The past few days have been tough. “We have little manpower because our employees stay in Tacloban,” she says. Slowly, some of the doctors are going back to work to this inland area.

And Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) decided to support the hospital so it can continue providing service to the people in surrounding towns. Eugenie Nicolas-Ortega is now a bit less lonely.

MSF Philippines

MSF emergency doctor Víctor Fernández, sees a baby with diarrhoea in the Burauen district hospital (Philippines), supported by MSF. ©Agus Morales/MSF