Scale up preparedness against Ebola virus | Inquirer Opinion

Scale up preparedness against Ebola virus

/ 12:02 AM October 23, 2014

As we write, according to the World Health Organization, the present Ebola outbreaks have claimed the lives of 4,033 people out of a total of 8,399 cases in seven countries which include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. At least 16 Ebola cases have been treated outside of West Africa in the current outbreak; three have died. Most of these involve health and aid workers from the United States, France, Spain, Germany and Norway who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home country for treatment.

There are currently no approved drugs or vaccines to treat or prevent Ebola. However, the government has assured us that the country remains Ebola-free and that it is “working to prevent Ebola spread in the country.”

The Council for Health and Development cannot help but worry, given the state of the country’s public healthcare system. The system is failing, particularly in disease prevention and control—outbreaks of diseases such as measles and dengue are concrete indicators.

Despite the high profile “Iligtas ang Pinas sa Tigdas” program of the Department of Health—measles continue to affect the population. The DOH admitted a sharp increase in the number of measles cases especially in Metro Manila in 2013—of the 1,724 confirmed cases, 744 where found in the metropolitan region. Early this year, the DOH announced measles outbreaks in the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig and Valenzuela.


If the DOH has problem managing preventable infectious diseases such as measles, how can we be assured that it can handle the deadly Ebola virus? Can the government and the DOH really ensure the health of the general population when the medical volunteers return to the country after their humanitarian work? And in a more immediate term, have safeguards been installed against the entry of the deadly Ebola virus considering that thousands of Filipino travelers and overseas Filipino workers come home from African countries?

The government should focus its resources toward improving the public healthcare system and scaling up prevention, control and management of diseases, including public awareness and preparedness against the deadly Ebola virus.


deputy executive director,


Council for Health and Development,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Ebola, Ebola Outbreak, Ebola Virus, Guinea, liberia, Sierra Leone, West Africa, World Health Organization

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