IOM, Japan hand over cold chain vehicles for COVID-19 prevention, support to BARMM

Published November 23, 2021, 5:56 PM

by Zea Capistrano

DAVAO CITY — In a bid to strengthen the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) COVID-19 response and prevention, the United Nation Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the Government of Japan, handed over three units of cold chain vehicles to its three island provinces.

In a statement Tuesday, Nov. 23, the IOM said the vehicles were delivered to the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi “to enable local health facilities to carry out safer and more efficient cold chain management.”

Kristin Dadey, IOM Chief of Mission in the Philippines said, “the assistance comes at a very opportune time as the government boosts its efforts on COVID-19 vaccination programme in BARMM.”

Dadey added that the 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.”

The cold chain vehicles will be used in transporting specimens, vaccines, and medicines. The IOM said, in the long term, the donated vehicles will also be used for other medical responses, including vaccination campaigns for polio and measles.

For the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Kazuhiko Koshikawa, their collaboration with IOM “stems from Japan’s belief that no region, island, or person should be left behind unprotected from the threat of COVID-19.”

“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,” he added.

Meanwhile, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim thanked the Government of Japan and IOM for “remaining steadfast on the shared fight against the pandemic.”

Both the IOM and the Government of Japan hope that the assistance will reduce the challenges and constraints faced by the region due to COVID-19 and would help in achieving lasting peace and development in the region, which is currently undergoing a transition and normalization process.

“With funding of more than USD 2.7 million from the Government of Japan, IOM is conducting a series of health and emergency preparedness interventions to support the region’s COVID-19 prevention and response,” the IOM added.

The IOM is also planning to give GeneXpert Machines for detecting COVID-19 and Tuberculosis, Solar Direct Drive refrigerators and sea ambulances to BARMM early next year.