• Business leaders forum tackles Ebola threat

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    BUSINESS leaders have called on the government to intensify its efforts to prevent Ebola virus from entering the country noting that the threat of the deadly virus should be a cause of great concern as it affects all countries in the world.

    The call was made during the gathering for the 3rd Top Leaders Forum hosted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and Hans Sy, a member of the UNISDR-Private Sector Advisory Group and President of SM Prime Holdings Inc., at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

    The Top Leaders Forum is an annual gathering of top-level executives and leaders in the Philippine private sector to discuss topics, challenges and action plans to create an over-all disaster risk reduction campaign.
    More than 130 government officials and top businessmen from all industries attended the forum.

    Margareta Wahlstrom, UN special representative of the secretary-general for disaster risk reduction, who co-presided the forum with Sy, likened Ebola to a biological hazard that needs to be stopped from spreading.

    “It is a biological hazard. It is a public health threat which cannot be contained within the national borders because it travels with people,” she said adding that people in Asia should not feel complacent about the virus because it can happen here.

    She said educating the people about the disease is a first step toward preparedness.

    “The first thing every continent should do is to educate people. It is a bit of fear management to understand how it is spread. We all need to prepare in case this makes it all the way to the Philippines,” she said.

    During the same forum, the business leaders also called for the review of the national building code noting that the current laws on buildings and infrastructures as well as land management may not be sufficient to
    cope with the worsening effects of climate change.

    Jerry Velasquez, UNISDR’s head of advocacy and outreach, said that participants in the gathering were one in saying that laws and other government policies to protect businesses may be inadequate given the current conditions.

    “You are operating in the Philippines which is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. If you are operating in a high hazard area, you have to be at risk. How do you better understand this to protect your business“ he stated.

    Taking a cue from last year’s devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), Sy said the private sector should continue to innovate their businesses to better prepare from disasters.

    He then took note of some of the disaster-resiliency efforts undertaken by SM in the light of the continuing climate change that include making disaster-preparedness a core in the conduct of their business.

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