Aussie gov’t donates P1.8 B vaccines to PH

By Analiza S. Macatangay


The Australian government has contributed some P1.8 billion worth of vaccines to the Philippine government as part of its Covid-19 vaccine support program.


Australia’s deputy ambassador to the Philippines, Richard Sisson, bared this when he visited Naga City on Nov. 11-12 as part of his mission to determine how other countries and localities are addressing the challenges caused by the pandemic.


“Naga was on our list. Our ambassador, Steven J. Robinson, had visited Naga City in 2017 and 2019. Last year, he visited Albay after three typhoons hit the province. He will also visit Southern Bicol next week. So, he is very keen to be back and see how the region has recovered and how it is going through on the tribulations caused by the pandemic and the typhoons,” Sisson said in an interview.


Australia’s donation to the country has several components of which P556 million will be utilized for the direct procurement of vaccines through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and there was also allocated funds for the purchase and delivery of 7.6 million doses of vaccines through the pooled procurement under COVAX AMC facility.


In addition, some P263 million will support the delivery of vaccines to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which will be implemented by UNICEF and World Health Organization.


Another P36 million will also be for health expert advice from the Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration and National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.


“That financial assistance will also be for the purchase of eight working cold rooms for the temperature-sensitive vaccines in some of the remote areas of the Philippines to include the Bicol region.” Sisson said.


The mission head, Sisson, together with First Secretary Simon Reid, said this year’s travel is significant as Australia and the Philippines are celebrating 75th year of diplomatic relations.


“This year marked the 75th year of diplomatic relations, the relationship has been a good, strong, long and fruitful one. We share the same values, we are both committed to the rule of law, we are both committed to the international system,” Sisson added.


The Philippines was the first country that the Australian government has engaged into a diplomatic relation in the South East Asia.


Aside from the purchase and the delivery of vaccines, Australia also helped fund some programs under the Bayanihan for frontliners, to include the enhancement of health facilities’ testing capabilities.


“At the beginning of the pandemic, we have provided fund to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for the establishment of the largest testing laboratory in the Philippines that is now serving not only Metro Manila but also other areas nationwide,” Sisson said.


Australia also provided 200 oxygen concentrators to the DOH at the height of the Delta Variant case surge. They also provided one million face masks and 20,000 PPEs for frontline workers, and distributed essential PPEs and medical supplies to 18 hospitals and five rural health units across Mindanao.


The Aussie government also donated medical and personal PPEs worth P162 million to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) hospitals across Visayas and Mindanao. (PIA5/Camarines Sur)