The Philippines is considered the most disaster-prone country in South East Asia and ranges among the most disaster-prone countries in the world. It is prone to destructive earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and is hit by approximately 20 typhoons annually. Often, the same region is faced with several typhoons, heavy rains, floods, landslides and/or tidal waves during the same rainy season.

The Philippines ranks 114 out of 187 countries in the current Human Development Index (UNDP, 2013) with 41.5 per cent  of the population living on less than 2 US$ a day (World Bank, 2009). Families highly depend on small-scale or subsistence farming and/or fishing, two sectors that are very vulnerable to natural hazards.

Canadian Red Cross support Ormac Field Hospital

As part of the Red Cross family, the Canadian Red Cross has worked side by side with the Philippine Red Cross to respond to disasters and support development programming. In previous years, the Canadian Red Cross has worked with the Philippine Red Cross to implement a primary health care project which focused on referral for common diseases, immunization for children and pregnant women, training of community health workers, and strengthening of local health systems. Following Typhoon Haiyan, which left a devastating humanitarian impact on the Philippines on November 8, 2013, the Canadian Red Cross has increased its presence in country.
In the early days following the disaster, the Canadian Red Cross responded immediately with support from the Government of Canada, by deploying a mobile field hospital along with a team of trained aid workers, to provide critical life-saving care to those affected. The hospital was supported by personnel and material from both the Norwegian Red Cross and Hong Kong Red Cross. The field hospital was set-up in front of the local district hospital in Ormoc, which at the time, was only operating at 20 per cent capacity due to the severe destruction caused by the typhoon.
During the emergency relief phase of the response, the field hospital supported the Philippine Red Cross and local health care staff to meet the needs in affected communities, which included surgery, pharmacy, maternal and child care, and out-patient services. While present in the city of Ormoc, the Canadian Red Cross field hospital was able to admit more than 1, 200 patients, perform over 100 surgeries and support more than 400 births. In addition, field hospital staff provided psychosocial services to more than 3,800 children and adults, while also providing training and workshops to some 230 teachers and volunteers on violence prevention, stress management, and safety and security.

 Following the emergency health response, the Canadian Red Cross trained staff and volunteers with the Philippine Red Cross and handed over the field hospital in February 2014. This contribution included equipment from the emergency response unit and locally procured medical and technical supplies, which will allow the Philippine Red Cross to provide basic health care to a community of 30,000 people in a future emergency. The Canadian Red Cross continues to work with the Philippine Red Cross to sustain their ability to provide timely and effective health care to Filipinos affected by future disasters.
The Canadian Red Cross is now working with Red Cross Movement partners to implement a variety of projects that focus on providing early recovery support to the affected populations of Typhoon Haiyan, specifically in the provinces of Aklan, Leyte, Cebu and Palawan. Projects will support communities through the following:
  • Rebuilding and reconstruction of housing, infrastructure, and water and sanitation facilities.
  • Provide immediate and longer-term livelihood support such as the necessary means to generate income and improve pre-disaster living conditions.
  • Strengthening communities’ preparedness and capacity to respond to future disasters.
Typhoon Haiyan: One year update
The Canadian Red Cross is committed to working with the Philippine Red Cross for many years to come to ensure assistance is provided not only in times of disaster, but to help build a better future.