Immediate needs and concerns among pregnant women during and after typhoon haiyan (Yolanda)

Mari Sato, Yasuka Nakamura, Fumi Atogami, Ribeka Horiguchi, Raita Tamaki, Toyoko Yoshizawa, Hitoshi Oshitani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Pregnant and postpartum women are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. These women suffer from increased risk of physical and mental issues including pregnant related problems. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which hit the Philippines affected a large number of people and caused devastating damages. During and after the typhoon, pregnant women were forced to live in particularly difficult circumstances. The purpose of this study was to determine concerns and problems regarding public health needs and coping mechanisms among pregnant women during and shortly after the typhoon. Methods: This study employed a cross-sectional design utilizing focus group discussions (FGDs). Participants were 53 women (mean age: 26.6 years old; 42 had children) from four affected communities who were pregnant at the time of the typhoon. FGDs were conducted 4 months after the typhoon, from March 19 to 28, 2014, using semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed using the qualitative content analysis. Result: Three themes were identified regarding problems and concerns during and after the typhoon: 1) having no ideas what is going to happen during the evacuation, 2) lacking essentials to survive, and 3) being unsure of how to deal with health concerns. Two themes were identified as means of solving issues: 1) finding food for survival and 2) avoiding diseases to save my family. As the pregnant women already had several typhoon experiences without any major problems, they underestimated the catastrophic nature of this typhoon. During the typhoon, the women could not ensure their safety and did not have a strong sense of crisis management. They suffered from hunger, food shortage, and poor sanitation. Moreover, though the women had fear and anxiety regarding their pregnancy, they had no way to resolve these concerns. Pregnant women and their families also suffered from common health problems for which they would usually seek medical services. Under such conditions, the pregnant woman cooperated with others for survival and used their knowledge of disease prevention. Discussion: Pregnant women experienced difficulties with evacuation, a lack of minimum survival needs, and attending to their own health issues. Pregnant women were also concerned about needs and health issues of their families, particular, when they had small children. Collecting accurate information regarding the disaster and conducting self-sustainable preparation prior to the disaster among pregnant women will help them to protect their pregnancy status, thereby improving their families’ chance of survival during and after disasters.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS Currents
Issue numberDISASTERS
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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