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The Australian medical response to Typhoon Haiyan

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Our well equipped civilian professionals made a rapid and valuable contribution to internationally coordinated aid

On the morning of 8 November 2013, category 5 Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Typhoon Yolanda) made first landfall over Eastern Samar province in the Philippines. Sustained, damaging winds of 235 km/h gusting to 275 km/h were accompanied by a tidal storm surge and subsequent inundation. The official number of fatalities stands at 6190, with 28 626 injuries attributed to the event, and over 16 million people affected.1

On 9 November, as reports indicated the scale of the disaster, the government of the Philippines officially requested international humanitarian assistance. Eastern Samar and Leyte provinces, including the major population centre of Tacloban (population 220 000) sustained catastrophic damage.

As part of a $40 million assistance package, the Australian Government deployed a field hospital and a fully self-sustaining civilian medical team with a mandate to assist the Philippines Department of Health in immediate postdisaster medical care. The first Australian medical assistance team (AUSMAT) of 37 medical, nursing, paramedical and logistics professionals deployed on 13 November with over 28 tonnes of equipment. They were relieved on 27 November by a second team of 37.

At the direction of the Philippines Department…