WHO supplies new computers to monitor health in typhoon affected areas

WHO country representative in the Philippines Dr Julie Hall with Region VI Director Dr Marlyn Convocar. Photo: WHO/ C. Claravall

The WHO Philippines, with support from the people of Japan, handed over 82 new computers to the Department of Health to assist information gathering and disease surveillance in provinces affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

Surveying and monitoring health issues is the front line in the battle against the spread of disease. With quality information, local health care workers can monitor, treat and prevent health issues before major outbreaks occur.

With over 2 million of its population affected, Region VI in central Visayas continues to recover from the after effects of Typhoon Yolanda.

“We didn’t have any power for three weeks after Yolanda and we were unable to activate our surveillance system. We began daily reporting through our clinic consultations but we didn’t have the capacity for consistent reporting since we were crippled with issues such as lack of equipment and poor internet connectivity.” said Mr. Barry Guanitas, a municipal health officer from province of Antique in Region VI.

The donation of the 82 computers all equipped with mobile internet devices helps facilitate and augment the information and surveillance systems. “Reporting is very important and we are excited to receive these computers because they will be a great help to make our work easier and faster” explained Nerissa Salazar from the municipal health office in Mabusao, Capiz.

“We are so pleased to be able to provide these practical tools to help local medical teams. It is remarkable that following Yolanda there were no disease outbreaks in this region. The systems that the region has had for many years ensured that surveillance systems are in place to make sure people are healthy and not just after the typhoon” said Dr Julie Lyn Hall, WHO country representative in the Philippines.

The new computers will be used specifically for surveillance and are equipped with the software of the Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response; Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disasters; and Event-based Surveillance and Response reporting systems.

“Seven months ago one of the first organizations to come to our aid was the WHO and now with this additional assistance from the WHO and the international community everything just fell into place. One of the road blocks in health care is health information, so this is one way we can concretize what we’ve done, sustain it region wide, and replicate it in the whole Visayas cluster. This equipment will hopefully also help us with addressing future calamities that come our way” remarked Dr. Convocar, Regional Director of the Department of Health in Region VI.

Dr Julie Hall turns over computers to Provincial Health Officer of IloIlo Dr Patricia Grace Trabado with Regional Director Dr Marlyn Convocar, Assistant Regional Director Dr Maria Paz Cortez, Regional Epidiemologist Dr Jessie Glen Alonsabe and Provincial Health Office Team Leads. Photo: WHO/ C. Claravall