ORMOC CITY, Philippines - The first medical team from the Singapore Red Cross has arrived in the city of Ormoc, Leyte province, with plans to run mobile clinics to tackle health-care problems in the Philippine city.
The team of nine, comprising three doctors, three nurses, an art therapist, an operations and logistics volunteer and a staff member, arrived Wednesday by ferry from Cebu.
The Singapore Red Cross' director of services, Mr Sahari Ani, arrived last week to assess the situation. He plans to split the group into two teams to run mobile clinics at different locations.
"One mobile clinic should be able to serve about 20,000 survivors at one location," said Mr Sahari.
"The hospitals have been destroyed by the typhoon... operating theatres, intensive care units are all gone."
Besides attending to immediate medical needs on the ground, the Singapore team is also looking to use art therapy to help children cope with trauma.
Mrs Laurence Vandenborre, founder of The Red Pencil, a humanitarian outfit in Singapore focusing on art therapy, said drawing helps to calm children who have been traumatised or displaced by disasters.
"We need to be there for them right from the start. The earlier we address the trauma, the less chance that the children will remain wounded," said Mrs Vandenborre.
She came with the team to assess the situation and plans to send two art therapists with each Red Cross team deployed to Ormoc.
On Nov 8, thousands of people were killed when Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through central Philippines. The strong winds generated tsunami-like waves which flattened entire communities and left close to four million people homeless.