COTABATO CITY – Health workers and offices of the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) received a donation of sea ambulances and medical equipment from the Government of Japan and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday, April 1 during a turnover ceremony held in Zamboanga City.
The assistance, according to IOM, will scale up health-related operations in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The donation includes 24 Covid-19 antigen test kits, three (3) cold chain vehicles, two (2) sea ambulances, 18 vaccine carriers with Thermo loggers (six per province of BaSulTa), five (5) gen expert machines with cartridges, and six (6) multipurpose tents for community-based vaccine campaign support.
According to IOM, “BARMM has been left less prepared for health catastrophes such as the coronavirus pandemic because of years of underdevelopment and conflict.”
“The help comes at an ideal time as the government ramps up its efforts to recover from the pandemic and improve its Covid-19 vaccination program across the country,” said Troy Dooley, IOM Philippines officer-in-charge.
“We believe that the given equipment will help to ensure that no one is left behind in these vital services, including vulnerable populations like migrants, returnees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs),” Dooley added.
Meanwhile, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim commended the IOM and the Japanese Government for their prompt assistance.
“The global pandemic struck at one of our most crucial political periods – the transition. I pray that the medical equipment would be useful to our beloved brothers and sisters in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi,” Chief Minister stated.
The IOM recognized that the financial and organizational demands of responding to the pandemic had strained regional capacity, delaying the Bangsamoro transition and normalization process.
“As the Bangsamoro Government intends to complete its mandate by the regional election in 2025, IOM and the Government of Japan, strongly expect that the support would help decrease the Covid-19-induced limits and hurdles in establishing long-term peace and prosperity in the region,” Chief Minister Ebrahim added.
Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa of Japan also stated that Tokyo would continue to help the peace process in the region. (Kasan M. Usop, Jr./BIO)