Sat. Jan 29th, 2022

The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday expressed its full support to the Philippine government’s three-day national vaccination drive, particularly the campaign in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) where the inoculation rate remains low.

The agency said there is a need to scale up vaccination efforts in the region as it remains “disproportionately impacted by the pandemic” in terms of its socio-economic development.

“This underlines the need for ramping up vaccination in the Bangsamoro,” UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez said a day after visiting Cotabato City to witness the large-scale drive.

“We cannot allow Covid-19 to reverse hard-won development gains in the country in general and in the Bangsamoro in particular, and the vaccination of our population is an important step in this direction,” he added.

The government’s three-day national vaccination drive seeks to inoculate about 9 million people nationwide by December 1.

A similar campaign is scheduled from December 15 to 17 to achieve the goal of completely inoculating 54 million Filipinos by yearend, with BARMM as one of the priority regions.

As of November 27, the UN said it has procured and delivered 32.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through UNICEF and the World Health Organization as delivery partners of the COVAX Facility, which accounts for 18.8 percent of total population coverage in the Philippines.

In BARMM, UN Philippines said it also provided necessary medical equipment, including the setting up of a Covid-19 testing lab in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, and the provision of five cold chain vehicles for each province, two sea ambulances, and 18 solar vaccine refrigerators.

Among others, it engaged local government units to ensure that they adopt Covid-19 protocols and health emergencies in their plans and programs.

Some 21,000 returnees have received direct support for enhanced infection prevention and control and effective quarantine measures during their stay in evacuation centers and transit sites.

Three city/municipal and 85 barangay level Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) plans in BARMM have also been enhanced to include response to Covid-19 and health emergencies.

The UN is likewise providing support to address vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19-induced mental health issues among vulnerable communities in the region.

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