The Department of Health IX (DOH) is preparing a preparedness and response plan for pandemic influenza in this region which was pattered from the Philippine Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan.
Dr. Norvie Jalani, DOH IX Epidemiologist, said that included in the preparedness and response plan are the preparations for Avian Flu, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) will also be added, Jalani said.
“The aim of the plan is to provide comprehensive guide for the preparedness and response to pandemic influenza, be it avian, SARS or other new flu disease like the MERS-CoV," she added.
Since 2005, during the advent of avian flu, it is a must to have a plan. from avian flu, to SARS, to AH1N1, this is the same plan being followed but this is always being updated, according to Jalani.
Jalani said that the office is confident with the region’s top caliber hospital, nurses, and physicians which are all trained and prepared in case the MERS-CoV comes in.
“For our brothers and sisters who came from the Arabian peninsula, please do not forget to protect yourselves. Washing your hands with soap and water after touching a sick person and before touching yourself is paramount, also covering ones mouth and nose while sneezing must also be practiced always.”
For those OFW, she said “When you go home to the Philippines, we recommend for you to stay at least 10 days observing for the development of flu symptoms. Especially health care workers who have been exposed to patients with probable MERS-CoV infection.
In Zamboanga City, the biggest public hospital Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) has already expressed preparedness for the possible entry of MERS-CoV.
ZCMC Chief of Hospital, Dr. Romeo Ong said during an earlier interview that possible MERS-CoV, the patient will be housed at the Ward 6 of ZCMC.
The DOH IX covers three provinces, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay and five cities to include Zamboanga.
The DOH IX is managing a total of seven hospitals regionwide. For Zamboanga City, DOH is managing three hospitals, the Labuan Hospital, Mindanao Central Sanitarium, and the Zamboanga City Medical Center.
By R.G. Antonet Go