Doctors and nurses from Boston hospitals have joined the disaster relief effort in the Philippines following last week’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan.
A seven-member team from Massachusetts General Hospital departed this morning, and six doctors from Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center have already arrived in the island nation, hospital officials said.
Another MGH team made up of as many as 60 doctors and nurses is expected to leave for the Philippines within the next two weeks through a partnership with the humanitarian organization Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere), a hospital official said.
Dr. Gregory Ciottone, director of Beth Israel’s Disaster Medicine Training Program, said this morning that the program has partnered with Global Rapid Rescue & Relief and sent a team of two doctors who are currently en route to the devastated city of Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit areas in the nation of 106 million residents.
In Tacloban, the doctors expect to help the Philippine government to re-open a disused hospital.
A second team of four Beth Israel doctors is traveling from the capital city of Manila to Cebu, where many injured Filipinos from rural areas are being brought, Ciottone said. A third group of doctors is expected to fly to the Philippines later in the week, he said.
MGH has partnered with with International Medical Corps to send a team that includes two doctors, four nurses, and a pharmacist to Cebu, hospital officials said.
Dr. Hilarie Cranmer, director of disaster response for MGH’s Center for Global Health, said today that the team’s pharmacist, Carmela Berlin, and one of its doctors, Dr. Roberto Coganda, are Filipino-Americans who speak Tagalog, the most common language of the Philippines, as well as other dialects.
“They’re great because they’re helping not just with medical support but with logistics [and] giving language lessons,” she said.
Cranmer has provided disaster relief following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, and the Haitian earthquake of 2010.
She said that during this deployment, scheduled to last 21 days, the team will aid people who have had no access to health care and are surviving with inadequate food and water, as well as little protection from sun, wind, and damp.
“The team is going to be facing horrible conditions,” she said. “It’s going to be prolonged protracted recovery effort over the next few months.”
According to the most recent figures from the Philippines’ main disaster agency, 3,633 people died and 12,487 were injured in the typhoon.