Senate to probe PH's Ebola preparations

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Wednesday, October 21, will begin public hearings on the preparation of the Philippines for the deadly Ebola virus.

"We will conduct these hearings not to sow panic, but rather, to gather everyone involved and ensure that all concerned government agencies are synchronized in their efforts and are prepared in dealing with this disease,” Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said in a statement Monday, October 20.

The Senate has invited Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Julie Hall of World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines, and other health officials from different government agencies and hospitals, as well as medical associations.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr are also expected on Wednesday’s hearing. (READ: PH preps for return of Filipinos from Ebola-hit nations)

"This is a multi-faceted issue, and we should be able to work together as a cohesive unit in order for us to effectively control this pandemic,” Guingona said." class="rappler_asset" border="0" />" target="_blank">FULL COVERAGE: EBOLA CRISIS

The Ebola virus, which can be transmitted through bodily fluids, causes severe fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, it also causes organ failure and unstoppable bleeding. It can kill victims in just days.

As of October 14, WHO said the 2014 Ebola outbreak has already killed 4,555 out of 9,216 cases mostly in West African countries Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. (READ: 5 misconceptions about Ebola)

The Senate hearing will begin as the Philippines steps up its efforts to prevent the entry of Ebola. Health workers from private and public hospitals will also start training on October 28

Ona on Tuesday, October 21, said the Philippines’ health department has "done all that is reasonably necessary” to protect Filipinos from Ebola. (READ: WHO: PH is systematic, meticulous about Ebola)

The Department of Foreign Affairs is set to raise alert level 3 – voluntary repatriation – over Ebola-affected West African countries by mid-November 2014.

Philippine United Nations peacekeepers from Liberia are also scheduled to arrive on November 10. (READ: PH not sending health workers to Ebola zone)

The Philippine government, Ona said, is working with WHO and the private sector to "make sure we remain Ebola free." –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.