865 Babies Born Each Day in Areas Devastated by Typhoon Haiyan
The UN estimates that more than 865 new babies will be born every day in communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Mary Ann, from Hernani in Eastern Samar, is one of these mothers. When Typhoon Haiyan struck, Mary Ann and her husband were expecting the birth of their fourth child.
Mary Ann’s Story
In the early morning hours of November the 8th, the typhoon hit Mary Ann’s village. She and her family were going to ride the storm out at their home, but as the storm intensified they made the decision to head over to the village evacuation center.
"I was afraid since I didn't know when the baby would be born," Mary Ann recalls.
They typhoon destroyed their home, blowing the roof off completely. The next afternoon, in the aftermath of the disaster, Mary Ann went into labor.
New Life Amid Destruction
Mary Ann's husband called in Myrna Paderan Torillo, a local nurse and a Plan volunteer. Myrna quickly realized that Mary Ann's condition required a doctor. Even though he had worked through the night administering first aid to typhoon survivors, the doctor made the 1-mile walk from his home to help Mary Ann give birth. At 4 p.m., on a wooden bedframe in her collapsed home, Mary Ann gave birth to a small baby boy.
Mary Ann and her baby are both healthy, but it is difficult to keep the newborn clean in the middle of the devastation. Her recovery from the birth is also complicated by the environment they are living in. “We have water, but it's not safe for drinking," she says.
Mary Ann's family received some of the very first emergency aid supplies from Plan in the days following the typhoon. Supplies included a tarpaulin and ropes to protect their home. "At the moment, we depend on the relief effort for food," Mary Ann says. "My greatest worry is for the health of the baby since we don't have proper shelter yet."
Pregnant and new mothers face huge challenges after the typhoon. In total, the typhoon has killed more than 6,000 people and has left more than 4 million people displaced from their homes. Many more, like Mary Ann, are still living in what is left of their homes. Every month, 25,000 babies will be born in areas affected by the typhoon, presenting enormous challenges as medical services are already strained to the breaking point and supplies are scarce.
Dr. Helenlouise Taylor, Plan International’s Regional Maternal Newborn Child Health and Nutrition Advisor adds; “Even after giving birth safely, far too many new mothers are homeless, staying in temporary accommodations or damaged leaking homes, which may not have water and sanitation. Their partners may also have lost their only source of income. Food is another big problem with food distributions only covering the basics."
“Young babies are at high risk of infections because of the lack of clean water and soap and hand washing, and they are not being protected by immunization, as health services are not working. Toddlers also need child-friendly spaces, as there is debris full of broken glass and sharp metal objects everywhere," she adds.
Plan Responds to the Enormous Need
Plan is supporting the Department of Health by getting health facilities that have been damaged and destroyed back in operation—this includes supplying medical equipment, medicine, and emergency training to nurses and midwives. Plan staff are also quick to get mothers and their children to the hospital when complications arise.
By paying close attention to the immediate and long-term needs for typhoon-affected communities, Plan is repairing damaged health facilities and providing mobile clinics that provide basic services such as antenatal care, post-natal checks, immunization and treatment for sick children and those suffering from malnutrition.
Plan also supports the community health workers and nutrition volunteers. These positions are linked with other Plan-provided services such as child-friendly spaces and food distribution.