Donations aid 1.6m typhoon victims

charity shopA month on from the devastating typhoon that rocked the Philippines, officials have said that the generosity from the British public has helped 1.6 million people affected by the crisis.

Since disaster struck, people in the UK have raised more than £73 million to help fund crucial aid, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said.

The money, which includes donations from the Royal Family and the Government, is helping to provide much-needed clean water, food, medical care and materials for temporary shelter to those affected.

David and Victoria Beckham also donated 20 boxes of clothing to a Red Cross shop to help boost funds.

DEC said its aid agencies had so far reached 1.6 million survivors across the country.

However, many people still need emergency assistance. In some remote areas little or no aid has reached survivors because roads are damaged or buried in debris, DEC said.

The scale of the disaster was enormous, with almost 15 million people now known to be affected, according to the latest Philippines government data.

Typhoon Haiyan destroyed or damaged the homes of six million people and the death toll is more than 5,700.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: "In homes up and down the country people have seen the devastation in the Philippines and decided that they simply had to help. In many cases we know they are facing considerable hardship themselves but they gave anyway.

"The UK public has once again placed its trust in the DEC and our member agencies. We feel the weight of that trust as heavily as our obligation to help those whose lives have been ripped apart by this terrible storm.

"Our member agencies cannot undo the damage done by Haiyan, not in months or even a year, but they have worked with their partners to overcome enormous obstacles to deliver emergency aid to hundreds of thousands of survivors. The relief effort is ongoing and we must continue to scale it up but we must also begin to support the affected people of the Philippines down the slow, hard road they face to rebuild their lives and livelihoods."

Earlier today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said a mass campaign to vaccinate children under five against measles and polio is under way in storm-hit communities and evacuation centres.

The risk of infectious diseases "remains high", particularly in crowded and unsanitary environments where hundreds of thousands of homeless people are now sheltering. Infectious diseases like measles, typhoid fever and dengue can thrive in such conditions, a spokesman said.

Medics from both the Philippines and elsewhere in the world have been dealing with injuries sustained during the typhoon, new injuries inflicted as people clear away debris and a number of other ailments including respiratory infections, fever, diarrhoea, high blood pressure and skin diseases, WHO said.

They are also helping to deliver babies amid the disaster scenes. WHO said an average of 865 women give birth every day in affected areas.

As foreign medical teams prepare to leave the country next month, WHO identified some top health priorities including expanding essential services, reviving clinics and hospitals, preventing disease and scaling up mental health services.

"Our immediate goal was to help plug critical gaps in medical services and to get the right experts and supplies into the right places swiftly and efficiently," says Dr Julie Hall, WHO's representative in the Philippines.

"We must ensure that essential health services are not interrupted and that in the months to come, the Philippine government as well as humanitarian aid organisations and other key partners have adequate resources to restore health services across the affected regions."

© 2013 Press Association