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UN backs PH vax program

THE United Nations (UN) in the Philippines declared its full support for the roll-out of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez and head of UN agencies met with Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje as well as with DOH teams and experts to express support.

The UN is already supporting the Philippine Government’s vaccination programme through the COVAX Facility, the international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, especially to low- and middle-income countries.

On 4 March 2021, the Philippines received 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and expects to receive 4,058,400 more doses in the second quarter of 2021.

Gonzalez said that in addition to the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), he has mobilized all UN agencies to pool capacities, technologies and resources in support of a successful vaccination campaign.

The UN is providing logistics equipment like Mobile Storage Units, generators, and/or prefab offices and transport support to move medical supplies. It is supporting Local Government Units (LGUs) with technical assistance to help ensure equity and inclusion in the vaccination programme.

Committed to leave no one behind, the UN is coordinating with the DOH and the Department of Justice (DOJ)to advocate for the inclusion of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, especially those belonging to priority vaccination groups, in the national vaccination programme.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the UN is supplying cold chain management equipment including specialized cold chain vehicles, biosafety refrigerators, and ultra-low temperature freezers, among others.

The UN is also providing training to healthcare workers on cold chain management and COVID-19 testing, and is addressing misconceptions about vaccination through intensive and nationwide information campaigns.

Gonzalez said the “vaccination campaign is a core component of the COVID-19 recovery phase and it requires full support from a wide range partners. It also relies largely on full respect for prioritization policies and strong and nimble logistics. The UN is supporting the Philippines on both fronts and making sure that this phase of COVID19 recovery is a success.