You are here


Just weeks after Typhoon Odette hit the Philippines, hundreds of hospitals were severely damaged across the country's affected regions. The disaster had affected an already overstretched health infrastructure – the Rural Health Unit (RHU) in the Municipality of Pilar, Surigao del Norte included.


The RHU of Pilar was totally damaged with almost all of its roof blown off, practically dismantling all of the equipment and flooding rooms that held precious commodities, rendering the facility unusable until major repair was done. 

An Emergency Maternity Tent Facility (EMTF) and a Women Friendly Space tent (WFS) were quickly deployed just outside the RHU in early January 2022, just weeks after Typhoon Odette made landfall. These tents alongside other prepositioned supplies like maternity packs, dignity kits and clean delivery kits for midwives among others were part of Enhancing Capacity to Respond to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies by UNFPA and the Australian Government to augment the gap so the disaster-affected women and girls   have continued access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. 


Just outside the EMTF is an ongoing reproductive health medical mission attended by pregnant and lactating women to receive  pre and postnatal care; we met Joymie, who was then 6 months pregnant with her 5th child. 


She vividly recalls that fateful day. Her family lives near the sea where the typhoon's wrath was significantly felt. 


Joymie and her children evacuated to a relative’s home near the mountain-side and stayed there with four other families. Meanwhile, her husband was left to safeguard their boat and what was left of their belongings. 


Just when Joymie thought the worst was over, the roof of the house where they evacuated also got blown off by the strong winds. Fortunately, they survived the ordeal and were unharmed despite being soaked by the rain. 


Joymie was still grateful that despite losing most of their belongings, her family was safe and the boat, their primary source of income, remained unscathed.  


"All the baby essentials like clothes, blankets, and others I kept from my previous pregnancies were washed away by the typhoon, so we had to start from nothing."


As they slowly rebuild and recover, most of their income goes to their basic needs. She is delighted to have received the maternity pack from UNFPA which contained maternity pads, newborn clothes, cloth diapers with nappy clamps, and receiving blankets - most of the things she needed for herself and her newborn baby. 


About six weeks after giving birth at the EMTF, she went back to the reproductive health medical mission (RHMM) just outside the damaged Rural Health Unit to get her postnatal checkup. Joymie attended a health information session where she learned about family planning options available for her. 


Just before she got pregnant with Baby Kristoff, she was advised by the elders in her community to just take herbal teas as a form of birth spacing method which proved to be ineffective. She was determined to take action with the new information she learned from the RHMM.


"Getting my implant feels empowering. I'm glad I can take better care of my five children and find income opportunities to help my husband provide for our growing family."


Access to safe and effective contraception is limited in areas affected by natural disasters, which put many young women at risk of unintended pregnancies and health complications. 


Through sexual and reproductive health information and services, including family planning given to women like Jaymie, she is now empowered to choose when and how to become pregnant, or  to avoid unintended pregnancy.


To date, and working with partners, UNFPA has conducted a total of 117 Reproductive Health Medical Missions (RHMM) in response to the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, reaching 5,549 women and girls with integrated sexual and reproductive health (SRH), gender-based violence and mental health and psychosocial services services in both Southern Leyte and Caraga region. 


UNFPA Philippines' Integrated sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and gender-based violence (GBV) support for women and girls affected by Super Typhoon Rai  is implemented by Mindanao Organization for Social and Economic Progress Inc. with funding support from the Australian Government.