MANILA (AFP) – The Philippines is considering deploying substantial numbers of health workers to West Africa amid a global appeal to deal with the Ebola virus, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Friday.
The United States and United Kingdom have both specifically asked Manila to provide “human resources”, Ona said, adding that the nation’s high number of qualified health professionals make it well-placed to provide help.
The United Nations has meanwhile called for a 20-fold increase in the world’s response to the Ebola epidemic, which has killed nearly 3,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year.
“I think it is also something of a responsibility for our country… to respond to that global call for assistance,” Ona said at a joint news conference with World Health Organisation Western Pacific director Shin Young-soo.
“We (Philippine officials) are meeting on this issue and should be able to make a firm decision… maybe in a week or so.”
The Philippines is expected to decide after President Benigno Aquino meets key officials to discuss the specific US and UK requests, Ona added.
Shin said the Philippines was in a unique position of having “so many qualified health workers” and wanting to express its gratitude for the global rescue and rehabilitation effort after it was struck by Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.