THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is ready to send aid workers to countries in West Africa hit hard by the Ebola outbreak.
PRC Chairman Richard Gordon said the Philippines must join the international community in stopping the spread of the deadly virus.
“We have to contain the Ebola virus in those areas so as to protect our borders. In this day and age of air travel, we have to make sure that we have the necessary mechanisms in place to detect the Ebola virus at our airports, and have prepared isolation facilities when necessary. Ebola will come to the Philippines so the fight against Ebola must be waged in West Africa, and we must join the battle now so we can learn more about the pandemic.
That is our humanitarian duty as Filipinos, which we are well known for throughout the globe,” he said.
He noted that the Philippines should also reach out because the country benefited from the world’s generosity after Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) devastated entire communities in Central Visayas last year.
“It is also our duty to help out when the world needs us. That time has come,” Gordon, who had just returned from a meeting of the International Federation of the Red Cross in Geneva, said.
He said the PRC will deploy staff and volunteers to West Africa after they have undergone intensive training and provided with equipment. The training will be done in cooperation with the Canadian Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC).
The volunteers will stay in Africa for a month and will be quarantined for 21 days after completing their tour of duty.
Gordon said Mattea Bandol, a former financial manager of the PRC, is now actively helping other Red Cross volunteers in Sierra Leone.
The PRC head also called for volunteer doctors, nurses, medical technologists, logistical experts and other professionals whose services are needed to contain the spread of the contagion.
Gordon said 153 Red Cross staff from various countries have deployed to West Africa.
Countries that have sent Red Cross staff are Spain, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, United Kingdom, Colombia, Switzerland and Canada. Thousands of volunteers are also actively supporting the fight against Ebola not only in West Africa but in other nations as well.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 8,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola since March this year.
Ebola is an infectious and contagious disease, spread through contact with an infected person’s or animal’s secretions such as saliva or blood. There is no cure or vaccine.