Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mental trauma haunts Philippines typhoon survivors

Terra Daily via AFP: ....As the rescue and emergency phase of helping the survivors winds down, medical and social workers are appealing for trauma experts to counsel typhoon survivors ... But like all other aspects of the response to the disaster, the scale of the psychological needs is overwhelming.

More than 5,200 people have been confirmed killed and another 1,600 are missing after Haiyan tore across some of the country's poorest islands, generating tsunami-like waves that left dozens of towns in ruins. About four million people have been left homeless and 10 million affected, according to the government.

Amid such widespread mental trauma, the Department of Health has been able to deploy just 21 psychiatrists and psychologists, according to Bernardo Vicente, director of the government's National Center for Mental Health. "Definitely, we don't," Vicente told AFP when asked if there were enough professional counsellors available to treat traumatised survivors in the disaster zones.

Vicente pointed out there were just 600 registered psychiatrists nationwide, most of whom worked in large city hospitals and unable to abandon their duties to help the typhoon survivors. He said the health department's counsellors had worked only in Tacloban, a city of more than 220,000 people that was among the worst hit and where 1,727 people have been confirmed killed. Health workers in Tacloban say that support is not nearly enough, and the needs will likely grow as the focus of survivors shifts from putting up makeshift shelters and looking for food....

A destroyed house on the outskirts of Tacloban on Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Caritas is responding by distributing food, shelter, hygiene kits and cooking utensils. (Photo: Eoghan Rice -  Trocaire / Caritas).  Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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