Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona today declared that the Philippines is prepared with a multi-sectoral response plan for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), a health emergency of international concern.
Ona made this declaration during the first national EVD Summit held with participants coming from different sectors, such as government, private sector, academe, business, medical community, international partners and civil society.
In August this year, the World Health Organization declared the EVD outbreak in West Africa as a public health emergency of international concern. From Guinea’s first reported case in March 21, 2014, the outbreak spread to neighboring countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. There are now cases in Spain and the United States.
“Because of these developments, the Philippines needs to take action to prepare and respond to cases of EVD in the event that Ebola reaches our shores,” Secretary Ona explained.
To date, the Department of Health (DOH) has developed interim guidelines for disease surveillance, notification and reporting of suspected EVD cases, clinical management, including laboratory testing of specimens from suspected EVD cases, and infection control.
One of the key elements in these guidelines is the critical role of health facilities in preparing and identifying isolation procedures for suspect EVD cases, case management of probable and confirmed cases, and implementation of infection control from triage to waste management.
The DOH has a preparedness plan, which covers case detection and reporting, outbreak management and response, surveillance at points of entry, case management, inter-agency coordination, planning, and resource allocation.
“Right now, in the drafting of the preparedness plan, all stakeholders, including the private sector, are being consulted on the roles that they can take on in the event of an EVD outbreak in the Philippines,” Ona said.
Meanwhile, the DOH reported that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is the designated National Referral Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases and is prepared to respond to suspected cases of EVD in the country. It has the capacity to test EVD in its acute and convalescent stages, using detection methods from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To date, RITM has tested 18 samples from suspected EVD cases, all of which tested negative. Laboratory personnel at RITM are also trained on bio-safety and bio-security. Presently, RITM has an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for handling patients and testing of samples.