PH can't send doctors to Saudi amid virus threat
MANILA, Philippines – Facing the threat of a deadly virus in the Middle East, Filipinos most likely can't run to Filipino doctors for help.
In Saudi Arabia, one of the countries hardest hit by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus, local rules "do not allow us to send doctors as medical attachés and mandate them to practice their profession there.”
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez confirmed this Wednesday, June 5, after the migrant workers' group Migrante asked the government to deploy medical attachés to Saudi Arabia.
Hernandez said Filipinos will have to count on Saudi's health facilities. “Saudi Arabia also has enough medical facilities and personnel to address such public health concerns,” he said.
DFA: 'Please cooperate'
In a statement last May 31, Migrante urged the Philippines' foreign affairs and health departments to consider sending medical attachés.
“I think it does not need prior approval by the host government as the deployment of a team of medical attachés could be done as an internal arrangement between the two Philippine government agencies. But if the DFA can arrange the deployment of Filipino medical attachés to establish medical bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia, then it would be better,” said Migrante's Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona.
The deadly Coronavirus has affected no Filipino so far.
In Saudi Arabia, the country with the most overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), up to 497,200 Filipinos face the risk of acquiring the virus.
“What we really need now is our citizens’ cooperation. Filipinos should heed the advice of our embassy and consulate and of relevant authorities of the host country. We need to work together so that appropriate assistance could be extended to our kababayans (countrymen) more efficiently,” Hernandez said.
Globally, the Coronavirus has killed at least 30 persons and affected 53, based on the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has urged vigilance against the virus. – Rappler.com