MANILA (AFP) – The Philippines has rebuffed a US request to dispatch medical workers to Ebola-hit regions, with the health ministry saying boosting the country’s defences against any local outbreaks was the priority.
The United Nations has launched a global appeal for more help to fight the viral epidemic that has killed more than 4,000 people this year, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The United States and Britain had also specifically asked the Philippines to pitch in by deploying its health sector personnel, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said last week.
At the time, Ona said Manila was considering deploying substantial numbers of volunteer health workers to help out in epidemic-stricken West Africa, saying it was “something of a responsibility for our country” to respond to the call.
But on Friday ministry spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said Manila had for now ruled out sending medical personnel, and was instead considering providing cash and other forms of assistance.
“As of the moment, we’re not really keen on sending human assistance, but we are not closing the possibility,” he told a news conference.