MANILA — The UN Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with the Government of Japan, handed over three units of cold chain vehicles to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The handover marks a key milestone of the project aiming at strengthening the region’s COVID-19 prevention and response.
Through the Integrated Provincial Health Office, the vehicles were delivered to the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi respectively, to enable local health facilities to carry out safer and more efficient cold chain management. They will be used in transporting specimens, vaccines, and medicines, and utilized not only for COVID-19 related needs but also for various health needs in the long-term, such as vaccination campaigns for Polio and Measles.
“Our collaboration with IOM in supporting the BARMM stems from Japan’s belief that no region, island, or person should be left behind unprotected from the threat of COVID-19” said H.E. Kazuhiko Koshikawa, the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines.
While years of underdevelopment and conflict have left the entire BARMM less prepared for health emergencies than the other parts of the country, communities in the island provinces have disproportionately limited access to critical COVID-19 services, including testing and vaccinations, due to its geographical remoteness and security concerns.
“The assistance comes at a very opportune time as the government boosts its efforts on COVID-19 vaccination programme in BARMM” said Kristin Dadey, IOM Chief of Mission in the Philippines. As the region receives more doses of vaccines in the coming months, “the donated vehicles will help BARMM deliver vaccines in a timely and effective manner, and ensure vulnerable populations such as migrants, returnees, and the Internally Displaced Persons in the island provinces are included in the service” continued Dadey.
BARMM is currently undergoing a delicate transition and normalization process. The financial and organizational demands of responding to the pandemic, however, has stretched regional capacity, causing delay in the process. IOM and the Government of Japan are hoping that through the assistance, COVID-19 induced constraints and challenges will be reduced, resulting to lasting peace and development in the region.
“Recognizing the importance of Mindanao for the peace and stability, not just in the Philippines but in the entire region, Japan continuously commits to firmly supporting the Mindanao Peace Process and the implementation of countless development projects” said H.E. Kazuhiko Koshikawa.
With funding of more than USD 2.7 million from the Government of Japan, IOM is conducting series of health and emergency preparedness interventions to support the region’s COVID-19 prevention and response. Other than the cold chain vehicles, IOM is planning to hand over GeneXpert Machines for detecting COVID-19 and Tuberculosis, Solar Direct Drive refrigerators and sea ambulances early next year.
Through the video message, BARMM’s Chief Minister, Hon. Ahod B. Ebrahim, expressed his gratitude to the Government of Japan and IOM for “remaining steadfast on the shared fight against the pandemic.” Echoing his message, Minister of MOH-BARMM, Dr. Bashary A. Latiph, thanked for the “timely assistance at the height of the vaccination roll-out in BARMM” and for the crucial support that contributes to ensuring the Bangsamoro people with “a fundamental human right to health and a foundation for economic prosperity and security.”
For more information, please contact: Kristin Dadey, IOM Philippines Chief of Mission at [email protected]
IOM Philippines will hold a virtual handover ceremony on 22 November 2021 (MON) 14:00-15:00. The event will be livestreamed at IOM’s official facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/IOMPhilippines