U.N. body, JAPAN OUTLINE PROGRAM to BOOST BARMM’S COVID RESPONSE
THE United Nations Migration Agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Government of Japan have linked up to strengthen the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) preparedness and response capacity for effective Covid-19 prevention and control.
The Japanese government provided $2.7 million to support the IOM’S Covid-19 response efforts in the country.
IOM said the project aims to enhance the readiness of the region for the Covid-19 vaccination rollout through technical support and knowledge transfer.
“Covid-19 continues to pose a significant challenge to the whole country, and it is crucial that we ensure vulnerable communities are not left behind in this unprecedented health crisis,” said Kristin Dadey, IOM Chief of Mission in the Philippines. “The project will not only contribute to supporting vulnerable communities most affected by the pandemic, but it will also help bring peace, security, and stabilization to the region,” she added.
IOM said the project also aims to equip local health authorities to undertake adequate testing, cold chain management and patient transport in response to Covid-19.
Through the project, IOM hopes to strengthen BARMM communities’ disaster risk reduction and management capacity in the context of health response.
BARMM is considered the most impoverished and marginalized region, with the country’s highest poverty rate. The 2018 poverty data saw the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) register a higher poverty rate of 61.3 percent from 58.9 percent in 2015.
IOM said the pandemic has amplified the preexisting vulnerabilities of the communities. Years of underdevelopment and conflict have left BARMM less prepared for health emergencies than other parts of the country.
“[This is] one of the difficult times in the region’s recent history. Our shared fight against the Covid-19 is far from over. The project would help BARMM ease the path and address the effects of Covid-19,” BARMM’S Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim said.
IOM said communities in geographically disadvantaged and isolated areas, including island provinces of Basulta (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi tawi), face additional challenges of inaccessibility and insecurity, which hamper their access to health-care services and public Covid-19 response activities.
The pandemic also comes at a critical time for BARMM as it is undergoing a delicate transition and normalization process. Such poses significant constraints to the transition authority and the national government’s efforts in achieving milestones of the peace process as they shift their already stretched resources to Covid-19 response.