Private hospitals brace for possible entry of Ebola virus

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Private hospitals are bracing for the possible entry of the Ebola virus in the country as a group of doctors formed a task force to help the Department of Health (DOH) raise public awareness about the disease.

Members of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. are preparing isolation rooms where patients suspected of contracting the Ebola virus could be admitted, PHAPi president Rustico Jimenez said yesterday.

He said hospital personnel are being trained “on how to handle patients properly to prevent spreading the virus to hospital workers.”

The idea is to have teams of frontline health workers that would deal with possible Ebola patients, Jimenez said.

He assured the public that private hospitals have their own infectious disease specialists but handling an Ebola outbreak would be beyond their capacity.

“Private hospitals can handle Ebola cases on a limited scale. In epidemic proportion, private hospitals can not absorb only Ebola cases. There are other patients that we have to take care of,” he said.

PHAPi is coordinating with the DOH on the procedures of collecting and testing specimens taken from suspected Ebola patients.

The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) has also formed a task force to help the government educate the public about the deadly disease.

PCP president Anthony Leachon said they are also targeting doctors, especially those in the provinces, whose knowledge about Ebola might be limited.

“We have never seen Ebola so it is important to help doctors know about it. I don’t think we can create a dent if we don’t work together to fight this health challenge,” he said.

The group is adopting the Ebola module of the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians.

“We have more than 10,000 members across the country. If we mobilize all of them, we’ll be able to help the government raise awareness about Ebola,” Leachon said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed yesterday the planned training by foreign experts of Filipino health workers as nations step up their defenses against Ebola.

Reports said the first batch of foreign experts who will train local health workers will arrive in the Philippines soon.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government is being proactive in dealing with infectious diseases, and training doctors and nurses on how to prevent the spread of Ebola is important.

At the same time, Valte said the government is ready to address concerns of Filipino nurses to increase their salaries and improve their lot.

Hundreds of nurses held a rally in Manila Friday demanding higher pay and better working conditions.

No processing of returning OFWs to Ebola-hit countries

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is regulating the deployment of returning Filipino workers to three West African countries affected by the Ebola virus.  “Amid the continued threat of the Ebola virus, the POEA will hold the processing of returning workers to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in an advisory issued on Friday.

Cacdac cited the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)’s announcement to impose Alert Level 3 in the three countries in mid-November.

The POEA policy will stand “until proper coordination with the DFA and the DOH to ensure the safety of Filipino workers.”

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Ebola outbreak in Senegal was over and commended the country for its diligence to end the transmission of the virus.

“Senegal’s response is a good example of what to do when faced with a case of Ebola. The Senegal government, under the leadership of President Macky Sall and Minister of Health Awa Coll-Seck, reacted quickly to stop the disease from spreading,” WHO said.

WHO records showed that as of Oct. 14, a total of 9,216 Ebola cases, with 4,555 deaths, were registered in seven countries. These are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States. – With Aurea Calica                     

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