JOINT EFFORT. Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Health Deputy Minister Dr. Zul Qarneyn Abas (left) and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal (right) during the signing Thursday (Dec. 8, 2022) of the joint memorandum circular on the operational guidelines to support the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination in schools. Data from both agencies showed that only 3,124 out of 1,051,384 schoolchildren in BARMM have been vaccinated. (Photo courtesy of MBHTE-BARMM)

COTABATO CITY – The health and education ministries of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have joined hands to improve the vaccination rate among learners in the region.

This came about as combined data from the region’s Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) showed that only a few thousand schoolchildren are vaccinated in the region.

“Only 3,124 schoolchildren out of 1,051,384 learners in BARMM have been vaccinated,” MOH Deputy Minister Dr. Zul Qarneyn Abas said in a statement Friday, citing data from both MOH and MBHTE.

Full face-to-face (F2F) classes in the region began last month upon orders of the Department of Education.

“This means that most of our schoolchildren are considered as high risk. I urge the education stakeholders to help us in shielding our learners via the anti-coronavirus diseases 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination,” he said.

In a separate statement, MBHTE Minster Mohagher Iqbal emphasized the need to support the BARMM government's initiative to intensify its vaccination program.

Iqbal noted that the region remains vulnerable to the virus since the threats of Covid-19 remain with the new variants coming in.
 
With the resumption of F2F learning, Iqbal said the vulnerable and immunocompromised individuals and children in school and at home must be protected.

"A rise in numbers of infected people will create an unsafe environment for students, teachers, and non-teaching staff," he said.

On Thursday, Iqbal and Abas led in the signing of a joint memorandum circular of MBHTE, MOH, and the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government on the operational guidelines to support the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination in schools.

Iqbal said the MBHTE will be closely working with the MOH and local government units in doubling efforts to inoculate the highest number of schoolchildren in the region. (PNA)