True or False: Philippines Can Handle Ebola Outbreak


The Ebola virus is no longer exclusive in Africa. Recent news reports revealed that there are already reported cases of this virus in America and in Europe, particularly Spain. This brings terror for many, wondering what happens if this virus makes its presence known in their respective territories; it is incurable at this point in time.  Thus, the only way out for individuals suffering from this condition is death.  The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are at least 1800 cases of this medical condition of which more than 1200 people have already died after acquiring the disease. 

Since this virus was not contained in one area, there is fear among Filipinos if this thing will reach our shore, can our government handle it properly? Or will there be an outbreak considering the mixed track record of our government on handling health outbreaks during calamities and disasters?

ebola virus philippines
What DOH Said

In an interview with Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona, he explained that Filipinos should remain calm regarding increasing worries of possible entry and spread of this virus in the country.  According to him, the government will see to it that this disease will not afflict Filipinos as they have already implemented health measures to prevent entry of this disease such as the use of thermal scanners to help detect arriving passengers with fever as it is one of the symptoms and signs of the Ebola virus. In addition, passengers will have to declare by filling up a form if they were from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone which are countries with outbreak of Ebola.

What Philippine Red Cross Has To Say

Former Senator Richard Gordon who is the current chairman of Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said the Philippines should join the international efforts in curbing the spread of this deadly virus.  It is not enough that mechanisms are in place in airports and other entry points, containing the outbreak in West Africa is one of the most logical ways for the country to help deter entry and spread of this deadly virus to other territories around the world.  He further added that deployment of health volunteers will give the country a better perspective and training on how to deal with this outbreak if and when should it happen in the Philippines.  At present, Philippines has already sent at least 8000 health workers in Ebola infested areas and more than 100 peacekeepers in Liberia. 

The Verdict: Ready or Not

Both Ona and Gordon are sending mixed signals.  Ona just merely stated broad strategies on how to manage the outbreak and is limited to preventing entry and spread.  He did not present a detailed plan should it happen eventually.  Gordon on the other hand, may be right about sending health workers for exposure and training but did not present how will the government ensure that the health workers and peacekeepers will return in our country Ebola virus free.  Words are not enough to encourage Filipinos to be calm and confident that the government can handle Ebola outbreak.  The US and Spain Ebola situation is an indication that the government should do more than preventing entry and spread and exposure and training.  

Posted by Alden I. Bula
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