Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on the public to take a proactive role in the fight against the A(H1N1) virus now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has elevated its pandemic alert to the highest level.
"My fear is if this virus reaches heavily-populated areas, it would be difficult to contain. And before everything gets out of hand, I call on everyone to do their part in putting a stop to the spread of the virus. Battling the A(H1N1) virus is not the government's responsibility alone," Escudero said.
The senator also called on the government to immediately launch a comprehensive, community-based information campaign on how to prevent the spread of the virus.
WHO officials on Thursday declared a global pandemic, the first such alert in 41 years. The declaration, according to WHO, means the spread of the virus is considered unstoppable.
It is also seen to speed up the production of a new A(H1N1) vaccine and prod governments to spend more in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG had reportedly produced the first batch of swine flu vaccine. However, it was unclear when the vaccine would be available for sale.
"Until the vaccine is available, we are repeatedly told that the spread of the virus can be prevented by proper hygiene. I urge the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and all concerned and capable agencies to immediately launch a massive information drive on the virus," Escudero said.
The senator said he believes a majority of Filipinos are still not totally familiar with measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
"But that is just the first part. The public should also be educated on how to detect this flu and on what to do if they see symptoms among people in their households. This is where the information campaign comes in," Escudero said.
"If some government agencies can spend millions in infomercials, some even being used to boost the election ambitions of some people, then they can certainly allocate their budgets for the battle against the A(H1N1) virus," he added.