Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine emergency basic relief and medical aid mission project (November 2013-February 2014): the role of physiatrists in Super Typhoon Haiyan

Disabil Rehabil. 2018 Sep;40(18):2217-2225. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1326534. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Background: Physiatrists have provided humanitarian assistance in recent large-scale global natural disasters. Super Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest and most costly typhoon in modern Philippine history, made landfall on 8 November 2013 resulting in significant humanitarian needs.

Methods: Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine physiatrists conducted a project of 23 emergency basic relief and medical aid missions in response to Super Typhoon Haiyan from November 2013 to February 2014. The final mission was a medical aid mission to the inland rural community of Burauen, Leyte. Summary data were collected, collated, and tabulated; project and mission evaluation was performed.

Results: During the humanitarian assistance project, 31,254 basic relief kits containing a variety of food and non-food items were distributed and medical services including consultation, treatment, and medicines were provided to 7255 patients. Of the 344 conditions evaluated in the medical aid mission to Burauen, Leyte 85 (59%) were physical and rehabilitation medicine conditions comprised of musculoskeletal (62 [73%]), neurological (17 [20%]), and dermatological (6 [7%]) diagnoses. Post-mission and project analysis resulted in recommendations and programmatic changes to strengthen response in future disasters. Physiatrists functioned as medical providers, mission team leaders, community advocates, and in other roles.

Conclusions: This physiatrist-led humanitarian assistance project met critical basic relief and medical aid needs of persons impacted by Super Typhoon Haiyan, demonstrating significant roles performed by physiatrists in response to a large-scale natural disaster. Resulting disaster programing changes and recommendations may inform a more effective response by PARM mission teams in the Philippines as well as by other South-Eastern Asia teams comprising rehabilitation professionals to large-scale, regional natural disasters. Implications for rehabilitation Large-scale natural disasters including tropical cyclones can have a catastrophic impact on the affected population. In response to Super Typhoon Haiyan, physiatrists representing the Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine conducted a project of 23 emergency basic relief and medical aid missions from November 2013 to February 2014. Project analysis indicates that medical mission teams responding in similar settings may expect to evaluate a significant number of physical medicine and rehabilitation conditions. Medical rehabilitation with participation by rehabilitation professionals including rehabilitation doctors is essential to the emergency medical response in large-scale natural disasters.

Keywords: Physiatrist; disaster rehabilitation; humanitarian medical assistance; medical rehabilitation; natural disaster; tropical cyclone.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclonic Storms
  • Disabled Persons* / rehabilitation
  • Disabled Persons* / statistics & numerical data
  • Disasters*
  • Humans
  • Philippines / epidemiology
  • Physiatrists*
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine* / methods
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine* / organization & administration
  • Professional Role
  • Relief Work / organization & administration*