11/12/2014, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - AFRICA
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Filipino bishops praise courageous priests and lay people on mission in Ebola-affected countries

The executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Health of the Bishops' Conference hails the work of missionaries and volunteers, a "source of inspiration" that "shows that the Church will always be the first to offer herself when sick people need a caring hand". He also wants more virus information and prevention.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) - Filipino bishops have praised the courage and missionary work of Fr Anthony Patrick Santianez (pictured) and those like him, including Filipino migrant workers, who are actively involved in the fight against Ebola.

According to the Episcopal Commission on Health (ECHC) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), these people are willingly putting their life in harm's way to help people in Africa touched by the outbreak.

Centred specifically in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the fight has already claimed thousands of victims, there and around the world.

Speaking to Radio Veritas, Fr Dan Cancino, executive secretary of CBCP-ECHC, expressed his admiration for the Filipino volunteers, many of whom are priests and lay missionaries, who have decided to stay on in the affected countries to help contain the deadly virus.

Despite government warnings to leave the affected areas and be placed in quarantine, "What our fellow Filipinos abroad are doing in a time of epidemic like this one serves as a valuable inspiration to all of us. It also shows that the Church will always be the first to offer herself when sick people need a caring hand," Fr Cancino said.

In his view, the volunteers are like soldiers on a mission, active not only in treatment but also in raising awareness about the disease.

Although no Ebola cases have been declared in the Philippines, the CBCP-ECHC executive secretary called on the public and experts to do their bit, spreading the right information, especially with regards to prevention.

Ebola is a very aggressive virus that causes haemorrhagic fevers with a very high mortality rate. In the current outbreak, the death rate has averaged 70 per cent, but it could peak at 90 per cent.

The first case was recorded in February in Guinea, from which it spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. So far, 4,950 people have died out of 13,241 cases, but the situation could get worse.

The disease spreads through contact with the blood and bodily fluids of infected persons.

At present, there is no effective treatment and the epidemic of recent months has prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare an international emergency.

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