DOH assures gov’t has put in enough preparations to manage possible EVD outbreak in PHL

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, Oct. 10 (PNA) — The Department Health (DOH) assured on Friday that the government has put in enough resources to deal with the threat of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) which has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a public health emergency of international concern.”

“We are prepared with our multi-sectoral response plan for EVD,” DOH Secretary Enrique T. Ona said in his speech at the National Summit on Ebola Virus held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

Secretary Ona cited that part of the response plan is the preparation of isolation procedures in case the dreaded disease enters the country.

He explained that they will implement contact-tracing for possible exposed individuals in EVD-infected places to prevent or minimize the entry or spread of the virus.

“Isolation rooms in some DOH-owned hospitals in Manila and in other areas of the country are being prepared so that the rest of the public will not be infected if ever,” Ona said.

He assured that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the Lung Center of the Philippines and San Lazaro Hospital as well as two older hospital facilities outside Manila are prepared to receive symptomatic cases.

He also said that enough training for the health workers and experts on the case management of probable and confirmed cases, including laboratory testing of specimens from possible suspected cases and infection control, are already in place.

In the open forum after his speech, the DOH chief cited the measures they have undertaken, like the close coordination in contact-tracing of a suspected Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) case as a clear example of the preparedness of the department in terms of dealing with it in case the EVD enters the country.

He said some of the prepared plans of action of the DOH include case detection and reporting, outbreak management and response, surveillance at points of entry, case management, inter-agency coordination, planning and resource allocation.

“Travelers entering the Philippines from affected countries will undergo screening by our Bureau of Quarantine,” he stressed.

Secretary Ona explained that the summit was conducted not only to reassure DOH commitment but also to gain the participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector, in the effort to keep the country Ebola virus-free.

In August this year, the WHO declared the EVD outbreak in West Africa as a public health emergency of international concern.

EVD has spread from Guinea to neighboring countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.

At present, there are cases detected in Spain and in the United States.

“We cannot be complacent about it,” the DOH chief said.

He also said that they are planning to discuss intensively with all concerned agencies, as well as President Benigno S. Aquino III, about the global call for the deployment of Filipino health workers as volunteers or any other form of assistance for the affected countries, as initiated by the WHO, the United Nations and other international community agencies. (PNA)