AT LEAST 600 medical professionals -- local and foreign -- are set to attend to the medical needs of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), a total of 400 foreign medical experts are now in the country to help the victims of the super typhoon.
"We are overwhelmed with the support that we are getting from out international partners. We are coordinating with the WHO for their assignments," said Health Secretary Enrique Ona in a press briefing.
He noted that of the group, 200 came from Israel while 31 are from Germany; 35 from Belgium; 25 from Japan; 34 from Australia and 45 from Norway.
He said the international medical contingent are composed of doctors, nurses, paramedics, logisticians, managers, and security personnel.
Ona said that with the medical teams, some of whom are expected to arrive in affected areas as early as Tuesday, are tons of supplies and equipment that could sustain operations for up to two weeks.
Aside from foreign contingents, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) is also set to send a group of almost 200 medical professionals on board a barge under its "Doctors on Boat" project.
Dr. Leo Olarte, PMA president, said that their contingent is composed of at least 100 doctors with different specializations as well as other health workers.
"This is pretty much the same as our previous endeavors but this one is on a very large scale. Instead of riding rubber boats, we decided to bring in a whole barge this time due to the enormous task at hand," said Olarte.
He said they are slated to arrive in Tacloban City on November 19 and will stay in the area to attend to injured and ill residents for one week.
Aside from converting the barge with a 1,000-ton capacity into a "boat hospital," Olarte said they will also be sending out some of their members to do house-to-house consultations.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) said they are flying in more than two dozen health emergency relief experts and emergency health kits for the initial response
"We are working closely with the Philippine Government and local authorities to assess and rapidly address the life-saving needs of the people affected by this typhoon," said WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Julie Hall.
In a related development, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has issued an emergency appeal for an amount of 87 million Swiss francs (94.6 million US dollars) in a bid to help victims of the super typhoon.
"Widespread damage has been reported across nine regions of the Philippines. While the authorities are still confirming exact numbers of casualties, thousands are presumed dead or missing," said the ICRC.
It said the funds are primarily aimed to provide 100,000 families with food, clean water, shelter and other essential relief over a period of 18 months by augmenting the funds of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
PRC chairman Richard Gordon immediately welcomed the emergency appeal of the IFRC saying it will greatly boost their capabilities especially in reaching remote communities.
"This is one of the worst disasters ever in one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The clock is ticking to save as many lives as possible," said Gordon.
On Monday night, President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity amid the devastation caused by super typhoon Yolanda. (HDT/Sunnex)