By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA – The United Nations (UN) in the Philippines has mobilized all its agencies and resources to reinforce and ensure the success of the country’s national coronavirus vaccination program.
According to UN resident coordinator Gustavo Gonzales, the heads of all UN agencies stationed in the country have issued their commitment to support the Duterte administration’s initiative to vaccinate at least 70 percent of Filipinos in order to achieve ‘herd immunity’ and control the spread of Covid-19 across the archipelago.
The UN gave this assurance during the agency’s meeting with health undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje and a team of experts from the Department of Health (DoH).
The UN is already supporting the government’s national vaccination program through the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility under the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI) that ensures equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world, especially to low- and middle-income countries.
On March 4, 2021, the Philippines initially received 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while 4,058,400 more doses from COVAX are expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2021.
In addition to the support from WHO and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Gonzales announced that the UN is also providing logistical equipment, like Mobile Storage Units, generators and/or prefab offices and transport support, to move medical supplies.
“(We are) also supporting local government Units (LGUs) with technical assistance to help ensure equity and inclusion in the vaccination program,” he added. s
Likewise, as part of its commitment 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 program.
In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the UN is involved in supplying cold chain management equipment including specialized cold chain vehicles, biosafety refrigerators, and ultra-low temperature freezers, among others.
The agency is also training healthcare workers on cold chain management and Covid-19 testing and is addressing misconceptions about vaccination through nationwide information campaigns.
“The vaccination campaign is a core component of the Covid-19 recovery phase and it requires full support from a wide range of 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 Covid-19 recovery is a success,” Gonzales concluded. (ai/mtvn)