DONATION. Unicef Representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson (from left) witness the ceremonial handover of PHP48.7-million worth of cold chain equipment and other assistance to the Philippines at the Goetz Cargo Center in Parañaque City on Friday (Jan. 28, 2022). The donation was made by the Australian government through Unicef-Philippines. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – The Philippines on Friday received PHP48.7 million worth of cold chain equipment and other assistance from the Australian government, through the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) Philippines.

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Australian government has been a long-time ally of the Philippines and has provided technical, logistical, and in-kind assistance throughout the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"These are life-saving equipment indeed critical in our pandemic response and also including some supplies and consumables, which have already arrived last year," Duque said during the ceremonial handover of the donations at the Goetz Cargo Center in Parañaque City.

The Philippines received 30 solar-powered vaccine refrigerators, eight walk-in cold rooms equipped with generators, 106 sets of spare parts, and 20 sets of personal protective equipment.

Unicef Representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said rural health units located within geographically isolated and disadvantaged communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Davao region will get a solar-powered vaccine refrigerator each.

The Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Zamboanga Peninsula, Soccsksargen, and Caraga regions are the beneficiaries of other equipment.

"This partnership is exemplary for our joint commitment to strengthen the national health system and making sure that health services and Covid-19 and routine immunization reach families in the Philippines," Dendevnorov said.

Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson said the donation would augment the Philippines’ goal to fast-track the Covid-19 vaccination program in remote areas by providing cold storage facilities that can store large quantities of vaccines.

"It will help ensure that those most at risk and other vulnerable members of the population have equal access to vaccines," Robinson said.

He added that the Australian government is committed to supporting the Philippines increase its cold chain capacity, improving information management, and expanding the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.

DOH Undersecretary Ma. Carolina Taiño, immunization specialist Dr. Carla Orozco, cold chain officer Benme Bersola, and Unicef Health section chief Dr. Malalay Ahmadzai also graced the event. (PNA)