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EU aids Southeast Asia in fight vs COVID-19

THE European Union (EU) has provided additional EUR 300,000 (P17 million) to South-East Asia to address additional needs identified in surge capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This additional work package will be delivered primarily through e-learning modules.

Target priorities identified by partner countries in South-East Asia are: laboratory capacity, validation of tests, and selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It will benefit laboratory analysts as well as management in its planning and risk assessment work.

“The work package addressing surge capacity to deal with pandemics should not only make us more effectively responding to COVID-19 but should also prepare us better for future pandemics,” Rolando Aquino, Alternate Head of the Regional Secretariat of the EU Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (CBRN CoE) for South-East Asia, said in his opening statement during the work package’s virtual launch held on November 24, 2020.

“The work seeks to share best practices, strengthen expertise and enhance sustainability in the region,” Aquino added.

Earlier, the EU also provided EUR 3.5 million for project Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia (BIOSEC).

BIOSEC is Project 81 of the EU CBRN CoE.

The initiative works with 61 partner countries in 10 regions, among them South-East Asia where the Regional Secretariat has been hosted by the Philippines since 2013.

South-East Asian countries have exchanged experience and increased their knowledge in prevention and mitigation of and response to CBRN risks of accidental, criminal or, like pandemics, natural nature in 23 completed and 4 ongoing projects.

The CBRN CoE has supported the creation of National CBRN Teams with Focal Points and the drafting of National CBRN Action Plans. The work has been done in close collaboration with international organisations including the World Health Organization.

The National Focal Points of the 10 CBRN CoE partner countries in South-East Asia meet twice a year to set the direction of the EU CBRN CoE in the region.

Their 18th Round-Table Meeting is scheduled for December 1, 2020 in a virtual format as a space to agree on further refined CBRN priorities in the light of the current pandemic.