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 2014
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: 2014
MSF continued to support communities in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan with response and recovery activities.
Recovery on Leyte island
On Leyte island, local services are now capable of meeting medical needs and MSF therefore closed the 25-bed tented hospital in Tanauan in March and the inflatable 60-bed hospital in the city of Tacloban in April.
Overall these facilities had provided over 45,600 consultations and had facilitated 475 major and 5,400 minor surgical procedures.
A mental health programme that began immediately after the typhoon continued with individual and group sessions in Tacloban, and in schools in Palo and Tanauan, where teams helped identify children who were still suffering from trauma as a result of the typhoon. More than 7,400 patients took advantage of these services.
An MSF assessment showed, however, that gaps persisted between needs and available obstetric services in Palo. In May, MSF began supporting the maternity ward and surgical team at Leyte provincial hospital.
Human resources support
The project focused on human resources support in surgery, maternity and neonatology, renovation of the wards, and ensuring an adequate supply of drugs and medical supplies. Teams also repaired the damaged sections of the hospital, installed new facilities and donated equipment.
MSF worked on rehabilitating Abuyog general hospital on Leyte, and two facilities in Eastern Samar province: Albino Duran memorial hospital in Balangiga and General MacArthur municipal hospital in General MacArthur. All renovation activities are expected to be completed in 2015.
Find out more in our 2014 International Activity Report.
At the end of 2014, MSF had 113 members of staff in the Philippines. MSF has been working in the country since 1987.