Saturday, November 16, 2013

The IDF in the Philippines: making miracles happen

Philippine officials have been overwhelmed by the scale of Typhoon Haiyan which tore a path through the central Philippines last week  The typhoon, one of the strongest ever to make landfall killed nearly 4,000 people, and many more are missing.  Over 1 million people have been displaced and have no access to food, water or medicine.  Many nations, including Israel  have stepped in to help

The IDF- the Israel Defense Force- sent a 148 person delegation to the Philippines on Wednesday in order to provide search, rescue and medical services to the typhoon ravaged nation. They brought with them over 100 tons of supplies. in response to super-typhoon Haiyan and  have set up a “multi-department medical facility” to provide medical care.  The facility includes an x-ray room, a children's department, an ambulatory care department and birthing facilities and is staffed by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technicians and lab workers. The IDF humanitarian mission completed the set-up of the hospital earlier Friday .

The medical team from Israel is already making a difference.  The first baby born at the Israeli Defense Forces field hospital in the Philippines was delivered safely on Friday. The parents  named the boy Israel., declaring "We chose the name "Israel" just to say thank you to the Israeli people." Nearly 400 were treated on its first day.
 NBC news correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports from the Philippines:
 I’ve always been fascinated by how well the Israeli Defense Force, otherwise known as the IDF, delivers emergency response medical care in extremely poor conditions.  My first experience with the IDF was in Haiti after the devastation of the earthquake there. They were remarkable then, triaging and treating patients in the midst of the devastation.

I wondered if they had found their way here -- so we set off to find them. And when we did, it was in a place we least expected.

The IDF had selected Bogo, a small village on the northern island of Mactan, to establish its emergency response center. Bogo had been hard hit by the devastation but it hadn’t attracted as much attention as other towns.  It was definitely off the beaten path...
Smart. Sophisticated. Secure. This was what I had experienced with the IDF before.  But now I was impressed with something else: the place they had selected. This wasn’t a site where trauma surgeons were needed -- those injuries in other towns were being addressed.  What the people of Bogo needed was good, solid medical care.  They were already living in poverty when the typhoon decimated their fragile infrastructure.

I asked the IDF Surgeon General in charge why they chose Bogo.  He said it was because they were poor and their needs were great. As I left, I walked away in awe of this group of doctors: physician humanitarians, and medicine at its very best.
 The IDF. Making us proud. Again.

No comments: