Medical certificate eyed for Pinoys, foreigners flying in from West Africa


    MABALACAT CITY – The government is planning to require Filipinos and foreigners arriving from Ebola-plagued countries in West Africa to first seek medical certificate affirming their good health in the past two weeks before boarding their flight to the Philippines.

    In an interview with Punto, Health Sec. Enrique Ona also said he is inclined to include Nigeria in the list of Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa covered by the ban for Filipino workers. At present the ban covers Guinea, Sierra Leone and Libaria where scores have already died from Ebola.

    Noting some Ebola cases in Nigeria, Ona said he is discussing with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment whether the West African country should also be included in the list.

    “Para sa akin, wag na muna,” he said. Ona noted that “the situation in each country differs and we have to put it in the context of how that country’s health system, quality control, capacity of each differ. Also in Nigeria, only a few cases of Ebola have been reported, so at the moment we have no exact recommendation but I am inclined to favor the ban on sending Filipino workers to Nigeria.”

    At the same time, Ona said the Department of Health is planning to require Filipinos as well as other nationalities in the three Ebola-hit countries in West Africa to first seek medical clearance before being allowed into the plane bound for the Philippines.

    “What we want is that they first obtain a medical clearance certifying they had been in good health for two weeks prior to their scheduled flight,” he said. But Ona said his department is still studying the capability of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to adequately examine the Philippine-bound travellers, noting that these countries are less medically advanced.

    “We are just assessing capacity of those countries to undertake such examination because they have less health workers. We are fairly advanced compared with them in terms of number of health workers,” he added.

    Ona also said he did not favor closing Philippine borders as a measure against Ebola, as he noted that “this could even worsen situation because people would begin hiding and not report.” “There is possibility that by being overly strict they go underground.

    Movement of people is controlled here. It is important to balance things. So we talk it over with WHO (World Health Organization) which also talks it over with the countries,” he said, recalling the chaos that resulted in Liberia when a community affected with Ebola was barred from free movement.

    Ona was here to oversee DOH’s implementation of anti- polio and measles vaccines among Aetas in BArangay Calumpang here and at the Epza resettlement in Angeles City.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here