THE government of Japan pledged an additional P190 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to strengthen the support to the Philippines’s immunization response to the pandemic.
This is part of the Japanese assistance to 25 countries in the Southeast and Southwest Asian as well as Pacific Island regions totaling $41 million. If will enable UNICEF in the Philippines to provide around 147 health facilities with vaccine cold rooms and solar refrigerators—including 2,000 health facilities with temperature-monitoring devices, training of more than 50 technicians to operate and maintain the new facilities, and equipping 300 health-care facility staff with necessary skills for their use and monitoring.
Other components of the programme will include development of immunization policy and procedures; building surveillance and in-country laboratory capacities for the early detection, investigation and management of vaccine-preventable diseases; as well as management and strengthening of information-management systems.
“The costs of the pandemic for children are immediate and, if unaddressed, may persist throughout their lives,” UNICEF Representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said. “The availability and equitable distribution of vaccines is critical for putting an end to this global pandemic. We thank the government of Japan for their support in ensuring a robust cold chain is in place and immunization services are strengthened.”
Prior to the pandemic, immunization levels in the Philippines have been declining. In the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey, immunization coverage for 1- to 2-year-old children for all essential vaccines was at a low 69.9 percent—far below the 95-percent target. In 2019 the Philippines was among
countries globally with the highest number of unvaccinated children for diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis or DPT3 and measles.
“We are grateful to UNICEF for its dedication in spearheading this initiative, which could not be more significant in this difficult time,” Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa conveyed. “Counting on [our] decades of cooperation…particularly here in the Philippines, together, we will continue to provide a helping hand to Filipino children in dire situations due to [the pandemic]. We trust the strong ties between Japan and the Philippines will be deepened even amid this rapidly changing environment.”
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, UNICEF works closely with the national government to sustain life-saving maternal, newborn and child health services that ensure children survive and thrive. Part of its support to the Philippines’s pandemic response, the UN agency is leading efforts to procure and supply vaccines on behalf of the COVAX Facility, securing access to safe injection and cold-chain equipment, while supporting country readiness efforts for the roll-out of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019.