Through the initiative of Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Sen. Dick Gordon to provide an immediate response to the Visayas and Mindanao region affected by the recent Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), PRC Hot Meals on Wheels provided free ready-to-eat meals to 75,141 individuals, since the beginning of Typhoon Odette operations.
In the immediate aftermath of any disaster, access to food is usually disrupted, with displaced families unable to prepare their food. This threatens the health, nutrition, and well-being of affected communities. The “Hot Meals on Wheels” program seeks to address this by having a fleet of food trucks that could be easily mobilized to provide food relief within 24 hours of a disaster.
PRC’s Hot Meals on Wheels first started in 2005, through the vision of PRC Chairman Dick Gordon to provide food to the most vulnerable. PRC acquired its first food truck when Chairman Gordon donated his personal funds to procure a food truck and distributed it to the different PRC chapters in the National Capital Region.
As of this writing, PRC’s food trucks have catered to over a million people, responding to disasters like Bohol Earthquake and Zamboanga Siege in 2013, Mindanao Earthquake in 2019, Typhoon Rolly and Ulysses in 2020, and throughout the entire COVID-19 operations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened in the Philippines, imposing a lockdown in the country, Thousands of Filipinos lost their jobs, their source of livelihood, and have restricted access to food. Through PRC Hot Meals on Wheels, the humanitarian organization can provide food to the most vulnerable individuals such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, and children greatly affected by the pandemic.
To intensify PRC’s covid response in providing Hot Meals to lockdown affected residents, PRC procured seven food trucks last July 2021, and an additional five more last October 2021, making it a fleet of 28 food trucks.
This initiative by PRC is in response to the imposition of strict community quarantine measures that restrict the residents to their access to food and other basic needs.
The food trucks are one of the first responses of PRC in emergencies and are currently stationed in key-strategic areas nationwide to hasten relief operations.
Each food truck is fully-equipped with an industrial-size rice cooker, warmers, oven, and burners. It is designed to provide on-site meals for the victims of disasters and calamities with no access to their homes or cooking facilities. Addressing the need for food is an immediate concern for these unfortunate persons.
“Sa panahon ng sakuna, isa sa pinaka mahalaga sa tao ay ang pagkain. Mahalaga ang mga Food Trucks dahil ilalapit na natin ito sa mga naapektuhan. Hindi na nila kailangan lutuin at kakainin nalang nila ito. May mga volunteer chefs at nutrionist din ang Red Cross upang masiguradong ligtas, masustansya, at masarap ang mga pagkain na ibabahagi sa affected communities,” Sen. Dick Gordon said.
PRC’s Food truck has played a vital role in emergency responses through hot meals distribution in evacuation centers, making it one of the first responses by the humanitarian organization to affected communities in times of crisis, disasters, and conflicts.
The hot meals on wheels is just one of the developments seen, as Gordon leads the Philippine Red Cross modernization program.
Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Sen. Dick Gordon said that regular testing against COVID-19 is imperative for early detection to prevent household transmission due to the increasing number of cases in the Philippines. To date, PRC has conducted 5,121,115 tests in the 14 PRC molecular laboratories nationwide.
It has been almost a month since the discovery of the Omicron variant has reached our shores and jolted us with its health and economic implications. With the virus spreading rapidly across other countries, precautions still need to be taken because infections have been reported worldwide among even fully vaccinated people.
During the past holidays, all of Europe had clamped down on celebrations and events while limiting private parties after the WHO pleaded for new restrictions to fight record Covid levels. EU officials have warned that this Omicron variant will become the dominant strain by mid-January.
“Kailangan natin magpatest upang madetect natin agad ang virus. Nakapagtest na ang Red Cross nang mahigit limang milyong test at naging daan ito upang hindi magkahawaan, ma isolate ang mga positive, at maligtas ang mga pamilya natin kontra COVID-19,” Chairman Gordon said.
With the increasing number of new cases after the holiday season, Gordon said that the humanitarian organization is preparing its Emergency Field Hospital and medical tents due to the threat of Omicron Variant.
At the height of COVID-19 Surge last April 2021, PRC opened a 100-bed capacity Emergency Field Hospital at the Lung Center of Philippines and medical tents in National Kidney Transplant Institute to serve as an emergency ward extension to cater to COVID-19 positive patients. To date, PRC has catered more than 8,744 patients for its covid-19 response.
PRC started its COVID-19 initiatives at the start of the pandemic and has been alleviating human suffering and uplifting the dignity of the most vulnerable who are greatly affected by the pandemic.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) conducted a multi-purpose cash grant to 300 families in the municipality of Ubay, Bohol to help them recover from the damage brought by Super Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai).
PRC headed to the Municipality of Ubay, Bohol to distribute PHP 3,500 in cash assistance to families heavily affected by the typhoon. PRC also set up a first aid station and had an ambulance on standby to conduct medical consultations, mask distribution, BP Monitoring, and health promotions at Poblacion, Ubay, Bohol.
“Patuloy ang Philippine Red Cross sa paghahatid ng tulong sa mga naapektuhan ng bagyong Odette. Hatid namin ay pag-asa sa bagong taon. Narito kami hanggang makabangon kayo at makatayo sa inyong mga paa,” Chairman Dick Gordon said.
Last December 16, 2021, when Typhoon Odette entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility, Chairman Gordon ordered the deployment of their humanitarian caravan in Bohol to provide immediate assistance to typhoon-affected families
The humanitarian caravan contains a Water Tanker, Food truck, an Ambulance, Payloader, a 6×6 Truck, two sets of generators, 5,000 face masks, 5,000 sando bags of relief items, 1,000 eco-bags of relief goods, 200 boxes (10,000 pcs RTE), and medicines.
As part of the Typhoon Odette response, PRC established their welfare desk which oversees the dispensing of hot meals, clean water distribution, clearing operations, hygiene promotion, and contact tracing. Chairman Gordon also deployed additional water tankers to provide a continuous supply of unpolluted water to prevent cases like diarrhea from happening.
Last 2014, through the leadership of Chairman Gordon, PRC turned over 2,050 houses to families affected by the Bohol Earthquake 2014.
“Mula noon, hanggang ngayon, ang Red Cross ay laging nariyan kung saan nangangailangan ng tulong,” Gordon added.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) celebrates Global Handwashing Day (GHD) 2021, with the theme, our future is at hand, let’s move forward together. GHD is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases.
PRC Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) unit spearheads the event to reach 1,000,000 children and educate them on the importance of proper handwashing. A webinar will be held on October 15, 2021. The webinar will cover relevant topics and key messages on proper hand hygiene along with influential speakers and subject-matter experts.
PRC Chairman and CEO Sen. Dick Gordon once became a brand ambassador of Safeguard in 2008, to promote proper handwashing to children. This partnership led PRC to extend its operation through the WASH unit to educate of handwashing with soap so they can protect themselves against preventable diseases, during times of disasters, calamities, and especially the pandemic.
“Mahalagang maturuan natin ang kabataan ng proper handwashing dahil ito ay makakatulong upang maiwasan ang diseases kagaya ng diarrhea, cough, colds, pneumonia, and skin rashes. It is important to arm them with basic knowledge on how to protect themselves so that in the future these children will teach the future generation, and together, we can move forward,” Sen. Dick Gordon said.
PRC through its local chapters has constructed WASH facilities in schools and communities to make it accessible for the residents of proper handwashing. PRC also provided portable handwashing facilities and drumvatories in schools, markets, and isolation facilities as part of its COVID-19 response, as the study shows that proper handwashing can prevent the spread of COVID-19.
WITH THE rapid increase of dengue cases in the country, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), under the leadership of Chairman Richard Gordon, deployed medical tents to assist hospitals currently experiencing an overflow of patients.
The Red Cross has set up 10 airconditioned medical tents in most affected hospitals—Balasan District Hospital, Sara District Hospital, and Guimbal District Hospital in Iloilo; Tapaz District Hospital and Bailan District Hospital in Capiz; Aklan Provincial Hospital; Pagamutang Bayan ng Dasmarinas in Cavite, and Gregorio Lluch Memorial Hospital in Iligan.
These hospital tents have now served 2,526 patients—mostly children aged eight months old to 12 years old.
Vida Obon, mother of a one-year-old patient at PRC’s medical tent in a hospital in Cavite, feared the possibility of having her son transferred to a hospital in Manila, which is a two-to-three-hour ride from the province.
“Noong nasa emergency room kami, sabi ng doctor, wala nang kama dahil sa sobrang dami ng pasyente,” Obon said. “Natuwa naman ako nung sinabi na merong tent ang Red Cross. Dahil dito, hindi na kami kailangang ma-transfer sa malayong hospital.”
According to Richard Soriano, father of an 11-year-old patient, the congestion in the hospital raised concerns that his son PJ, who was diagnosed with scoliosis, could worsen his condition.
“Palaging sumasakit ang likod niya kaya natakot ako na baka mailagay siya sa siksikan na kama. Buti na lang dito sa tent ng Red Cross, maluwag. Nakakapagpahinga siya ng maayos,” Soriano said.
PRC, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the German Red Cross, continues to support the Department of Health (DOH) to assist hospitals, especially in rural areas.
The deployment of medical tents is part of Gordon’s three-point strategy to address the dengue crisis—decongest hospitals, ensure the adequacy of safe and quality blood supply, and conduct massive information and cleanup drives.
“Hindi na magsisiksikan sa mga ospital ng Dasmariñas, Iloilo, Capiz, Iligan at Aklan ang mga may sakit ng Dengue. Lingid man sa kaalaman ng karamihan, hindi tumitigil ang PRC sa pagtulong sa mga nangangailangan, umulan man o umaraw,” Gordon said.
Latest report from the DOH shows that the number of dengue-related deaths this year spiked up to 882—a 63-percent increase from last year—while 208,917 dengue have been affected by the dengue crisis.
Born officially in 1947, but with roots that traces back to the revolutionary days, the Philippine Red Cross has truly become the premier humanitarian organization in the country, committed to provide quality life-saving services that protect the life and dignity especially of indigent Filipinos in vulnerable situations.