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PHILIPPINES HEALTH WORKERS SOUGHT FOR EBOLA-HIT WEST AFRICA

by AFP October 11, 2014 (updated) The Philippines is considering deploying substantial numbers of health workers to West Africa amid a global appeal to deal with the Ebola virus, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Friday.

The United States and United Kingdom have both specifically asked Manila to provide “human resources”, Ona said, adding that the nation’s high number of qualified health professionals make it well-placed to provide help.

The United Nations has meanwhile called for a 20-fold increase in the world’s response to the Ebola epidemic, which has killed nearly 3,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year.

“I think it is also something of a responsibility for our country… to respond to that global call for assistance,” Ona said at a joint news conference with World Health Organization Western Pacific director Shin Young-soo.

“We (Philippine officials) are meeting on this issue and should be able to make a firm decision… maybe in a week or so.”

The Philippines is expected to decide after President Benigno Aquino meets key officials to discuss the specific US and UK requests, Ona added.

Shin said the Philippines was in a unique position of having “so many qualified health workers” and wanting to express its gratitude for the global rescue and rehabilitation effort after it was struck by Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.

Other Asia-Pacific countries have also offered support including medics from China, financial support commitments from Australia and South Korea, and laboratory experts from Japan, Shin added.

The health secretary said the Philippines would only be sending volunteers, and noted it had a potentially large pool.

The health department has fielded queries from Filipino health workers wanting to work in West Africa, he added.

“The human resources that may be needed (may) not necessarily be working only in the Ebola-affected facilities,” Ona said when asked about the potential size and composition of the Philippine contribution.

“(There) may also be workers needed, for example, in public health, or taking care of hospitals where the usual non-Ebola patients go,” he added.

The United Kingdom has specifically offered financial assistance that could potentially cover the salaries of Filipino volunteer health workers, Ona added.

Ona said about 3,000 Filipinos already work in worst-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

About 150 Filipino soldiers also serve as peacekeepers under United Nations command in Liberia.

 

source: http://www.mb.com.ph/

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