The Japanese doctors who have come to the Philippines to help in the relief operations for the communities that were recently hit by Supertyphoon Haiyan have found a similarity between the Filipino and Japanese people – and it is found in the admirable way they carry themselves in the face of great tragedies. It can be remembered that Japan had been hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, and the Japanese doctors have found that same steely and positive resilience that was so evident in the Japanese at that time in the Filipinos who are now trying to recover from one of the strongest storms ever recorded in history.
“In a way, Filipinos are very similar to Japanese. They can appreciate what we do even if they are depressed in their situation. It is our mission’s turn to help them,” said Dr. Tsuruwa Niho of the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Medical Team. Tsuruwa’s team was sent to the Philippines by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Tacloban in Leyte, one of the areas hardest hit by Haiyan. The team had set up a makeshift hospital tent in the typhoon-hit city and continues to provide emergency medical relief to the city’s residents. Other medical teams from Japan were also sent to Basey in Samar and to the Tacloban City Hospital. Tsuruwa’s medical team has been seeing over a 100 patients on a daily basis since arriving in Tacloban.
“In times of disaster, it is important to conduct health surveillance to prepare when next disaster happens. There were a number of pneumonia cases, and it’s important that residents are given masks to protect them from the air conditions as the government begins rebuilding and collecting debris,” Tsuruwa said. She added that the people’s health needs constantly change. “For the first few days, there is need for potable water, but now they would need masks,” Tsuruwa said. “We have learned useful lessons from this mission such as properly managing disaster medicines, and the role of coordination between the government and those working on the ground,” she said.
Aside from medicines brought from Japan, the team also brought with them wireless mobile x-ray devices using tablet computers, which proved to be useful in detecting injuries and respiratory diseases. This was the first time they used the gadgets since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For Tsuruwa’s team, the warm smiles they continue to receive from grateful patients are an indication that they have succeeded in their medical mission in Tacloban. “We’ve done everything we can and we hope that we have contributed to addressing the health needs of the victims in our own way,” Dr. Tsuruwa said.
[via ABS-CBN News]