DAVAO CITY – The local government admitted in a consultantive agency held Tuesday that the city is lacking facilities to address ebola virus spread.

City Health Officer Dr. Josephine Villafuerte said that there are “a lot of things lacking in our airport and hospitals in handling victims with EVD (Ebola Virus Disease).”

She said that the airport has no waiting ambulance to accommodate a passenger who is a suspected EVD carrier.

A consultative conference was held in the city in order for local experts to “formulate a unified response to the EVD health emergency.”

Prior to the conference, they held an ocular inspection last week at the Davao City International Airport and the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).

Villafuerte said that the airport has a working thermal sensor for international passengers, one isolation room as quarantine and a separate exit for a patient who might be carrying the virus. The SPMC has 4 isolation rooms with two beds in each room, and a Personal Protective Equipment for health workers trained to handle the EVD.

The SPMC had 14 trained staff to attend to patients with EVD, said Dr. Paulo S. Pantajon, program coordinator of Department of Health Region 11.

He added that a regional inter-agency task force is in place to handle sensitive diseases like Ebola and MERS-CoV.

“Given the positive things achieved by our local health sector, there are still things that needed to be provided for the proper handling of EVD cases,” Villafuerte said.

During Tuesday’s conference, SPMC representatives said they need mini laboratories,  a separate entrance for hospital personnel, and a standard ambulance for EVD.

Villafuerte noted that the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) XI had already pledged two units of ambulance for the task force but they still need to assess if the vehicles pass the standards for high risk diseases like ebola.

During the conference, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that the city public safety’s vehicles could be used. He also pledged to buy an additional thermal sensor for the airport.

Duterte added that he encouraged private hospitals to “participate on this fight against EVD.”

“We have to know what’s happening to safeguard the health of the society. There’s no such thing as secrecy in terms of public safety and public health,” Duterte said referring to the hospital practice of keeping patient’s records as confidential.

Duterte added that education about the disease “is very important, and we must know how to tell the people, without panicking.”

As of now, there are about 9, 216 cases of EVD recorded around the world with 4,555 casualties. (davaotoday.com)

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