to some water from a nearby water tank because the mother has to care for her baby.
“During this brief ‘journey’, a distance of say 200m, the girl is exposed to the risk of being molested, sexually harassed or raped. In fact, we are slowly receiving reports on some of these cases now postHaiyan, but a lot tends to go unreported until much later.”
Sprint’s clinical management service helps rape survivors cope through supportive counselling and offering emergency contraception (in the first few days after a rape) as well as the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, says Azrul.
“For women not wishing to conceive naturally, we have contraceptive methods available which empowers them to have a choice in unequal power relationships.
“Women tend to be more pragmatic when considering if the time is suitable to have more babies, but they may face resistance from their husbands who may insist on unprotected sex,” explains Azrul.
These services and kits are called the Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health in Crises and can be directly employed to address the different sexual and reproductive health needs in times of crisis.
According to Azrul, Sprint also provides training for medical practitioners and field volunteers continuously so that they are well-prepared for deployment of the kits in the event of a disaster.
Despite this, capacity-building is never enough due to the loss of manpower during a disaster, as was the case with Typhoon Haiyan.
“This remains a huge challenge when the very people who are medically-skilled and trained perish themselves or suffer such extensive trauma that they have to rebuild their own lives.
“Our training focuses on helping health professionals make do with the bare minimum in a devastated environment that is stripped off any medical facilities or clinics. It can be overwhelming even for them to work in makeshift areas devoid of their necessary tools,” Azrul says.
In the current case of the aftermath of Haiyan, logistics have also been taxing since the affected areas are outlying islands, all geographically dispersed. While aid and media attention was immediately focused on Tacloban city of Leyte province, it was only later that the authorities grasped the magnitude of destruction sustained by other provinces like Samar, Eastern Samar, Cebu and Iloilo, where access is a major hurdle.
Reports that trickled in have described staggering impairment to seaports in some of these provinces, so ships are unable to berth to deliver supplies. The only possible mode of delivery is via helicopters, says Azrul.
“In terms of logistics and coordination, this typhoon is to some extent a lot tougher than the 2004 Asian Tsunami, notwithstanding the higher death toll in Acheh (Indonesia). Back then, military aid ships could still offload commodities on one land mass, Sumatra, unlike now in the Philippines where the provinces are far apart.
“In some situations, the pre-disaster census of populations have been totally destroyed, which makes it impossible to account for people living in a village or community in an area. And sometimes, people who require these medical services are ‘hidden’ simply because they are unable to travel to the medical outposts and field hospitals,” says Azrul.
This is Sprint’s fourth response to the Philippines just this year after the country faced smaller-scale disasters earlier.
Dr Subatra says an evaluation and post-emergency review will be conducted at the end of this project implementation to gauge the effectiveness of the ground services in aiding victims.
“We are glad to see this programme already integrated by the Philippines into its health emergency response system, with the help of our partner, the Family Planning Organisation of the Philippines. It is our hope that more countries will adopt similar approaches, as access to these essential services could mean the difference between life and death.
Taluksangay barangay Hall, Zamboanga, Mindanao, at
potty, etc, as well as a multi-purpose wrapcradle, body cover, etc. — Photos from Family