Bugko, April 2020
Dear members, dear friends and supporters of Mabuhay!
As in previous years, I was briefly in Germany in December to report in detail at the general meeting about the activities, innovations and plans in our project in Bugko. Again we were able to fill the beautifully decorated hall in the Elisabeth house with friends and members. It was nice to see and speak to many of you. Typhoon Tisoy, who hit the clinic on December 2, raised much concern.
When I returned on December 30, the effects of the typhoons were still visible everywhere. After Typhoon Tisoy, Typhoon Ursula followed on Christmas Eve. The cleanup and repair work continued until April, as it was raining heavily and the weather was extremely unstable. I would like to thank everyone who spontaneously supported us again, so that we could also help the people in our area who could not build their houses due to their own efforts. I will show the pictures of the construction work in the next newsletter. The considerable damage to the clinic was gratefully acknowledged by the organization of the German dentists with the help of Dr. Winter. Dr. Winter and the relief organization have been at our side for years, especially when a catastrophe strikes again. Unfortunately, the area is again and again v.a. affected by typhoons, but this time there was also a lot of damage in the clinic. Roofs had to be renewed, false ceilings had to be replaced, a new coat of paint and various damage to the buildings in the farm and medicinal plants had to be fixed.
The news in January were almost all about the eruption of the Taal volcano near Manila. There were many earthquakes in the
region and an outbreak was feared at any time. An evacuation zone of 14 Kolometers was established and many people had to go to evacuation centers for weeks. Thankfully the situation calmed down and the
outbreak did not take place and people were able to go back to their homes. The cleaning from the ash rain took a long time.
On January 11th Amy Seidel and Yvonne Plückebaum, two “freshly baked” dentists, came to us from the University of Hanover. The information spreaded quickly that the dental station in Mabuhay was occupied again and many patients came. Both dentists quickly and familiarized themselves with the treatment chairs. In addition to the treatments, they gave our volunteers tips on the prophylactic treatment of patients. Many teeth could be saved. To our delight, more and more patients are asking about tooth-preserving therapies and tooth cleaning. On February 9th Amy and Yvonne left to explore the Philippines.
Hanni Stieber, Hannah Wilhelm (both from the University of Würzburg) and Ida Brattinga (University of Cologne) came directly afterwards and took over the dental station.
On February 22nd Dr. Angel Wright from the ISM (International Surgical Missions) team came to us again to perform the outpatient operations and to screen the major interventions for the operations in Biri. (Biri is an upstream island, and anesthetic operations such as inguinal hernias, thyroid glands, fibroids or tumor operations are carried out in the district hospital there). She arrived 3 days late because flights from Clark to Catarman were canceled due to bad weather. Unfortunately, fewer patients came to surgery this year because the weather was just too changeable. Dr. Wright stayed with us for 3 days and on March 2nd Dr. Praveen and his wife examined cardiac patients. Unfortunately, they had to fly back to the United States the next day.
From February 26th to March 2nd Dr. Klaus De Cassan from the organization of German dentists (HDZ) came to us to train the volunteers in the fluorine prophylaxis program and to answer questions. There was a lively exchange. In the afternoon, some children came from the fluorine prophylaxis program and what they learned was put into practice. Dr. de Cassan was delighted to find such good results after so many years of prophylactic treatment. The prophylaxis measures over the years are now showing success for the good of the children.
On March 5th dentist Dr. Lindner and his wife Evelyn from Bad Kötzting came to us. Followed by the students of dentistry Parnia Aghel and Harli Godhanin (both from the University of Giessen) and Leah Graute and Sophie Wjinands (both from the University of Münster). Under the supervision of Dr. Lindner the students worked in the dental station. Unfortunately, fewer patients came than expected, because since March the Corona Virus completely controlled the world, including the Philippines. Nevertheless, the students were able to put much of what they learned at the university into practice. The patients were happy to see such a large team of dentists in Mabuhay and felt in safe hands. Unfortunately, they had to stop working early, but more about that later.
Since mid-March, the situation around the outbreak of the novel corona virus (2019-nCoV) and the associated global crisis sharpened and, above all, the fear of the population to become infected. After a short time, face masks and alcohol were no longer available even in Catarman. On March 15, Manila was more or less cordoned off. Air, land and sea traffic have been severely restricted to stop the virus from spreading. The population was asked to stay at home as much as possible and to wash their hands frequently. Even in our province, which was until 15 March free of Corona Virus, the passengers were checked and registered in order to find the virus carrier in the event of an outbreak and to monitor the fellow travelers. All returnees from Manila and other locations were also checked for symptoms daily for 14 days.
As of March 18, our village was quarantined and one person per household was given a pass, so that this person could do the household shopping. People aged 63 and over and children were no longer allowed on the street. Events were almost overtaking now. Schools, churches and shops were closed. On March 24th, Dr. Lindner, his wife and the students travel with the help of the local tourism department to Tacloban and from there to Manila. At that time there were no more domestic flights. On March 28, they had the opportunity to fly to Germany in a flight organized by the federal government. We were all very sad about the sudden departure, but on the one hand it was the last chance to leave until further notice, on the other hand only a few patients came because curfews were now imposed everywhere in the cities and the residents only in an emergency or closed unconditional errands were allowed to leave their town or village. Only 5 people are allowed in the supermarket at the same time. At all checkpoints, guarded by the police or the military, the people were registered, the temperature measured and the telephone numbers noted so that they could be contacted and isolated immediately in the event of contact with a positive person. The controls are much stricter than in Germany, but in this country of over 100 million people, the number of corona infected people can explode very quickly. At the time of my newsletter, there were just over 100 deaths in the Philippines and only one positive case in our province in Northern Samar, which survived the infection well. So far, the weak point has been the limited test options. The tests must be sent from North Samar to Cebu with the help of the coast guard. Another problem is the protective equipment, especially for the most vulnerable people (doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, etc.), such as face masks, face shields and safety clothing. Thankfully, we in the clinic are well equipped and have even been able to help others. The clinic is still open and a few patients come every day. As I said, it is difficult for patients to come here because of the many controls. Our volunteers stand by our side and work in different areas. The nutritional program, supported by the German Club in Manila, for 75 children at the moment, continues because it is more important than ever in this situation. I hope you can imagine how critical the situation is here at the moment.
Departure from our dental Team from Tacloban
Due to the situation, my parents unfortunately had to cancel their planned trip to here. A drop of melancholy! But the most
important thing at the moment is that everyone stays healthy and this I wish to all of you.
The government has recently started distributing some foods to the population, such as canned rice and sardines. Sometimes soap, face mask and disinfectant. The question is how long this will last, as it is still unclear how long the quarantine measures will be maintained. Many people, just like in Germany, currently have no work and therefore no income to support their families.
There are exciting months behind us, as you can see from the length of the report, so I thank you for your varied help and your memory of us here. PLEASE KEEP HEALTHY!
Salamat (thanks) from Bugko!