Philippines (MNN) ― The Philippines breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday as typhoon Lupit spared them over the weekend. Their attention returned to dealing with the crisis at hand: "rat fever."
State-run hospitals have been overwhelmed by an outbreak of leptospirosis--a bacterial disease spread from the urine of infected rats and other animals which has contaminated flood waters from two previous storms.
Debbie Toribio with Food For The Hungry (FH) says, "When they submerged their feet under the flood water, it was contaminated, so there had been leptospirosis in those areas that had been flooded."
Since the first case appeared a week after the storm, the numbers of people falling ill have been staggering. FH medical mission teams are partnering with hospitals, some of which were damaged in the flooding.
Stemming new infections is critical to stopping a full-blown epidemic. FH teams are literally hands and feet. "We were able to receive medical health kits, and the hospitals are the ones distributing these through the medical missions."
Starvation threatens, too. Crop damage from the flooding across Southeast Asia has been so extensive that hunger and disease threaten many families.
The ministry has the infrastructure to distribute, monitor and re-cycle recovery loans to the most vulnerable and needy people while bolstering well-trained churches who are already responding.
Through these partnerships, FH teams can meet basic needs providing food, water, blankets, cooking sets, and sanitation kits. They are also helping to restore access to clean drinking water and sanitation systems that may have been destroyed or interrupted.
FH also looks ahead to agricultural rehabilitation, which helps farmers rebuild their capacity to provide for their family and community through seed and tool distributions and training.
Once the physical threat subsides, their teams will provide emotional and spiritual support to those who have been traumatized by suffering and loss.Toribio says the survivors are desperate for hope. "It's really an opportunity, because people are more receptive and more appreciative of our presence. It's always a door for them to hear the Gospel."
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