Bloomberg News — Rizza Jo Jaro, 18, went into labor in an evacuation center in Tacloban on November 8 as Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the worst storms on record to hit land, ripped through the Philippine city in Eastern Visayas.
“My mother was whispering to my baby, ‘don’t come out yet,’” Jaro said, recounting how storm surges flooded the shelter. “I was so scared and felt like all hope was lost.”
She doesn’t remember being transported by her parents to Tacloban’s airport, where a C-130 flew her the next day to a military base in Cebu, a staging ground for relief operations. Later that night, baby girl Haiyan Angel, named after the storm, was born. After spending time in the intensive care unit for dehydration and low blood sugar, the baby is now fully recovered. Haiyan Angel is one of the lucky ones.
Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines 10 days ago, knocking down most buildings including medical facilities, killing thousands, displacing 4 million people and affecting more than 10 million. There are almost 25,000 women expected to give birth each month in the disaster area, which will strain an international relief effort that’s already facing logjams. The challenge may be compounded by disease brought on by a scarcity of clean water and poor sanitation.
“In crisis or not, women continue to deliver,” Sew Lun Genevieve Ah-Sue, country representative of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, said in a November 14 interview. “We have to therefore ensure that those services are there, in addition to food and water of course.”
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