On November 10th, disaster struck the Philippines in the form of Typhoon Haiyan. Also called Typhoon Yolanda, the catastrophic tropical storm impacted a significant portion of Southeast Asia, with storm-related fatalities reported from Vietnam to Taiwan.
In what has proven to be the deadliest typhoon in the Philippine history, the region’s most severe damage was experienced in the country’s Leyte and Samar islands. Thousands people have been reported killed by the storm, tens of thousands missing or injured, and millions more displaced.
Tragedy in Tacloban
In the area surrounding the Leyte Province’s capital, Tacloban City, the need for aid is critical. Tacloban was almost entirely decimated by Haiyan’s tsunami waves and dangerously high winds, leaving its population of over 200,000 desperately trying to find ways to survive.
In response, National Nurses United called for registered nurses to volunteer to pack their nursing scrubs and deploy to the Philippines. In support of their Registered Nurse Response Network, the organization reports that over 3,000 nurses have signed up to provide medical relief for Typhoon victims, with 500 of those volunteers applying within the first 24 hours.
For those in affected areas such as Tacloban that are without even the most basic needs, this help cannot come soon enough. Currently, the number of people requiring relief services dramatically exceeds the rates at which aid is being giving.
The Need for Nurses
The number of volunteer applications from nurses is encouraging as they can make an immediate difference in improving the quality of live amid the devastation. Finding clean drinking water is an essential challenge facing survivors. The current shortage creates a high risk of disease outbreaks and infected injuries. Having nurses available to monitor illnesses, treat wounds, and administer vaccinations will be vital, particularly in the coming month.
Another issue stemming from the lack of suitable drinking water is diarrhea-related diseases. Easily treatable, this illness caused by both contaminated water and dehydration can have acute consequences if left unchecked. Nurses can help treat those already suffering from cases of diarrhea, as well as dispense water-purifying tablets that stem further complications.
With the people of the Philippines needing all the strength they can muster for the rebuilding effort in the coming months, these services are indispensable. Even for those survivors lucky enough to avoid physical ailments, a nurse’s friendly face can offer a much needed morale boost as they attempt to cope with the tragedy.
Already clad in nursing scrubs while boarding planes, many volunteer nurses look to get to work as soon as they arrive. National Nurses United has received volunteers from every state, with some of the quickest responders being American nurses with familial ties to the Philippines. Those looking to return to their country of origin are anxious to contact friends and family still there, as well as give back to their people at time when they most need support. Those who are also able to speak Tagalog will provide an immeasurable service in facilitating the distribution of aid. It is important these nurses have access to quality yet cheap scrubs for their endeavors abroad.
The effort necessary from nurses will be substantial, as the dangers facing public health are abundant amongst the wreckage. The Registered Nurse Response Network is now performing the unenviable task of attempting to assess the needs in different areas as they go. The majority of volunteers are still awaiting assignment as officials already in the Philippines attempt to determine where their service will be most beneficial.
Those nurses still awaiting notice on when they will leave deserve immense recognition by their peers as well as everyone else. By simply offering their time and effort, they prove the title of registered nurse is one of the noblest of professional designations. The Philippine situation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan is dire, yet with 3,000 heroes already pledging to leave at a moment’s notice to aid in medical support, perhaps hope may soon begin to peek through the rubble.