MARAWI CITY, Oct. 15 (PIA) -Officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), United Kingdom, and the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) entered into a partnership to strengthen coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response in the region.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod "Al Haj Murad" Ebrahim said the partnership has the ultimate objective of protecting the most vulnerable persons in the region.
Alastair Totty, British deputy head of mission to the Philippines, said the first aim of the partnership is to reach some three million people across the region with COVID-19 messages, including risk communication and community engagement.
Totty added that the partnership also seeks to restart the provision of essential, preventative, and curative health and nutrition services to over 130,000 children and 25,000 infants to support outreach vaccination services.
Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF representative to the Philippines, said an emergency relief support to Filipinos returning to the region is among the objectives of the partnership.
Some 5,300 Filipinos in Sabah are expected to return to the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. The BARMM has already facilitated the safe return of more than 2,000 returning individuals.
Dendevnorov also commended BARMM's efforts to prevent the spread and impact of Covid-19. "These efforts need to continue, and I am pleased to confirm UK's commitment to supporting BARMM's efforts," Dendevnorov added.
As of Tuesday, October 13, the region has recorded 29 new recoveries, raising the number of total recoveries to 1,005 from its 1,385 total cases. The region has 326 active cases and 54 deaths. The Bangsamoro Government has also launched two 100-bed isolation facilities in Maguindanao, and one in each of the region's four other provinces.
In response, Ebrahim expressed gratitude to the British Government and UNICEF for their continued support to the regional government's efforts to combat the Covid-19.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Mindanao Chief Andrew Morris officially handed over UK-funded communication and relief supplies to the Bangsamoro Government on Monday, October 12.
The support bolsters UNICEF's response by providing supplies, training, and technical support to the Bangsamoro Government.
Supplies procured by UNICEF include tents for hospitals, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health and cleaning staff, and handwashing stations.
UNICEF also trained health workers in Infection and Prevention Control, translated and disseminated health messages to various dialects, and engaged children and youth to share their experiences of the pandemic as a way to inform future action.
Working with religious leaders, UNICEF helped incorporate COVID-19 messages in their sermons.
Health Deputy Minister Zul Karneyn Abas said the partnership will further enhance the BARMM Government's efforts to further contain the spread of the virus in the region. (BPI/PIA-ICIC)