More than 7,000 islands make up the Philippines, but the bulk of its fast-growing population – now more than 100 million people – lives on just 11 of them.
MSF in the Philippines 2015
After recovering from an economic downturn in 2004, the Philippines now ranks as one of the most promising newly-industrialised countries, with its export economy moving away from agriculture to electronics, petroleum and other goods.
Although endowed with many fine beaches and a growing tourism industry, much of the country is mountainous and prone to natural disasters. It is often lashed by typhoons and other storms.
The most damaging recent storm was 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, to which Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has recently ended its response. MSF first worked in the Philippines in 1987.
The mother of Niño, who came to MSF's facility to seek care for her son who had suspected dengue fever, spread by mosquitoes and common in many tropical countries.
“When the typhoon made landfall in our town, we sought refuge in my parents’ house. The wind was so strong that it blew off the roof of the house.
“We thought it was the last day of our lives. It’s difficult to describe the event, it is traumatic. Niño was soaked in water. We cannot wrap him or dry him as all our things are wet.”
“As the weeks have passed, and the students in need of individual attention decrease, our programme is coming to a close.
“The wind and rain comes and the children still exhibit some hesitancy or fear, but it passes quickly for most, and a song is sung.
"Most students now run outside to play in the rain. The Principal, the teachers, the parents, they thank us for our work with their students, their children, their community.
“I tell them that this is why MSF is on the ground, and that it was a privilege to have been allowed into the schools and to do the therapeutic sessions with them.
"I tell them that this is why, in part, MSF is in the country. It is a feel-good moment.
“Our project staff deserve the pride that they have taken in their work.”
MSF’s work in the Philippines: 2015
MSF completed the closure of all its post-typhoon activities in the Philippines this year.
By June 2015, the response and recovery activities put in place to support communities affected by the 2013 typhoon Haiyan were all closed.
These included support for maternal and child health activities in Leyte provincial hospital and the rehabilitation of three hospitals on Leyte and Samar islands.
During the year we conducted a number of assessments in different locations in the country to identify possible needs for long-term programmes.
As a result, a sexual and reproductive health programme will be opened in 2016 in the capital Manila.
This programme will be run in collaboration with Likhaan, a national organisation, and will include early screening and vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer.
Find out more in our 2015 International Activity Report.
At the end of 2015, MSF had 100 members of staff in the Philippines. MSF has been working in the country since 1987.