ANNOUNCER: (Continued) join today’s meeting. I would first like to welcome to the podium the Honorable Marie Sheilah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan – the Mayor of Manila. Thanks. (Go.)
LACUNA-PANGAN: Good evening, everyone. On behalf of the people of Manila, we would like to welcome the Honorable Secretary of State Antony Blinken, officials from the United States Government, the United States Agency for International Development, and our partners in the Department of Health.
Countries from different parts of the world have been surprised by the sudden influx of COVID-19 since 2019. But everyone has worked hard to develop an immediate plan to deal with the crisis, from detection, treatment, and prevention the spread of this virus among their citizens. The city government of Manila, as the capital of the Philippines with almost 2 million people, tried to respond to the disease by implementing (inaudible) COVID-19 – which means to contain and delay COVID-19 – through lockdown – Lock down the curfew as the epidemic started in the beginning of 2020.
We use the best of our health team consisting of a city health department and six city hospitals to meet the challenges of testing, diagnosing, and treating patients. In this instance, we increasingly see the importance of having friends and partners with whom we can build and sustain relationships, partnerships including the United States Government and USAID, to help our citizens receive life-saving care and access to vaccines . We thank the United States Government for providing such a great support to the Manila City Government.
With your help, we were able to administer more than 300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through a mobile (inaudible) referral and the donation of IT equipment to improve reporting and manage our vaccine data. We are proud to say that in the early stages of vaccination across the country, we were indeed one, if not the first, among the local governments of the capital that have a rapid vaccination rate. Again, we appreciate your help.
We are also grateful for the donation by the United States government of BIDA campaign materials and the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers in 16 health centers. This has allowed 290 people to wash their hands free of charge every day, thus giving Manileños extra steps protection from COVID-19. USAID – The United States Department of Defense also donated more than 19,000 PPEs and essential medical supplies and 10,000 emergency antigen test kits that helped us control the last outbreak of Omicron earlier this year. All of these partnerships are working with the national government’s “prevent, detect, isolate, treat” reactivation and prevention program for COVID-19.
We are proud and grateful to have the US government and USAID here with us today, and I want to express my gratitude to Secretary Blinken and our colleagues in the US Government for being our best friend during this difficult time. And we hope that we can further develop this partnership to ensure that our health system is better prepared for future crises. We say welcome (in Filipino). Thank you for your support.
Distinguished guests, friends, ladies, and gentlemen, let us now listen to the Honorable Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good evening, everybody. Madam Mayor, thank you very much for this excellent presentation. I have to say I think we have seen first hand a little while ago that Manila is lucky to have a former doctor who is leading the response to COVID-19. Talk about constituent actions – I think some of you have seen the mayor give antibiotics to a little boy. That is interesting.
And let me just say a special thank you to everyone involved in the fight against COVID in the Philippines, including yours truly from the health department, Manila Health Office, Philippine Genome Center, Bulacan Medical Center, many staff community health and other civil society leaders who stood up to save lives.
So I was just able to see some of the efforts being made to get firearms, especially for children. In a few minutes, I will also meet with some civil society leaders who are involved in the Philippine response. They are also alumni of U.S. exchange programs like the Southeast Asian Youth Leadership Program – commonly known as YSEALI – and the International Leadership Program, something we at the State Department are also very proud of. Therefore, we shared with their community in being proud of their service.
The organizations they lead are playing an important role in the fight against COVID-19 here in the Philippines.
To name just a couple of examples, Joy Cruise is the founder of a design agency. It’s called Infinite Lab. She and a group of other YSEALI alumni created AdaptPH, a nationwide campaign that encourages people to observe social safety rules such as wearing masks and social distancing. More than 240 local governments across the Philippines are now using its equipment to try to manage the situation of COVID cases.
Gabriel Beeyonez is the founder of Break the Fake Movement. This works to try to hide the information that is out there about cancer, about COVID-19. He partnered with our embassy here in Manila to create a “Media Civics Lab,” training elected officials to understand how misinformation threatens the pandemic response. Hundreds of officers are now better equipped to deal with conflicts in their communities as a result of working in this partnership.
So there are many other stories that I could share, but the main thing is this: The civil society leaders who are here with us are protecting people’s lives, protecting their lives, and helping to speed up the recovery from COVID.
And we see encouraging signs of this recovery all around us. More than 70 million Filipinos have been vaccinated. Diseases have decreased. Few people who contract COVID are hospitalized or die from it. And soon, children will go back to school on their own.
But there is still work to be done. There are about 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 every day across the Philippines. Sixteen million people have received booster shots. This is a lot, but more need to have it if we are going to continue to protect from all the differences. Less than four million children between the ages of 5 and 11 are fully immunized, and that’s about six million below where I know the Philippines wants to be. That’s why it’s been so encouraging for a while to see all the kids here, ready to get their vaccinations.
As the Philippines continues to vaccinate people, to reduce the spread and save lives, my message is simple: America is with you.
We are proud to donate over 33 million healthy, effective vaccines to the Philippines, no politics involved.
We have provided more than $50 million to your response to COVID-19 to help train health workers, to increase prevention efforts, to support economic recovery.
We’re also donating supplies to continue the fight against COVID-19, and we have some here with us today – test kits, lab equipment. All of these will go to the Genome Center of the Philippines, the Bulacan Medical Center, and our other partners who are here with us today.
Finally – finally – we will end this epidemic and be better prepared for future health crises by working together not only in governments, but also in the private sector and in civil society. civil servant.
That’s the idea behind something we’ve started called the Global Action Plan – we launched in February. And the goal is to identify the remaining gaps in the global COVID response and align countries with particular strengths to help fill those gaps. The Global Action Plan focuses on six key lines of effort: access to weapons, building networks and resilience, addressing information gaps and dealing with misunderstandings, supporting health workers, improving testing and treatment, and strengthen the global health security infrastructure. for a long time because we know, even if we overcome this epidemic, there will be more to come. And we must learn all the lessons from this experience to make sure that we are well prepared, and that we are well prepared the next time to see if we can prevent – and if not prevent, prepare and reduce – any epidemic of front.
If the world can make strong progress with these six efforts that I have described, we can end the great situation of COVID-19. But that requires great cooperation and cooperation between countries. None of us can do it alone. And that’s why a strong health partnership — like the one between the United States and the Philippines — is so important.
So again, I just want to thank everyone who contributed and continues to contribute to this partnership – simply, if for the safety of people in our countries and people around the world.
And now, Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire from the health department, the microphone is yours. Thanks. (Go.)
MS VERGEIRE: Thank you very much for the Honorable Secretary of State Antony Blinken – (in Filipino) – for being here and being present and joining us in this meeting. To the US Ambassador to the Philippines, MaryKay Carlson; to our USAID colleagues under Acting Mission Director Betty Chung; to the acting director of health, Katherine Tilout, our colleague Dr. Yolanda Oliveros; Dr. Ernesto Bontuyan, and Mrs. Consuelo Anuevo; Of course to our honorable mayor, our good friend, a very energetic worker, Mayor “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan; and their assistant Yul Servo.
As the world embraces the new culture, the Department of Health continues to work tirelessly to ensure that Filipinos are equipped with quality health information, preventive health care services, treatment, and vaccines. Since 2020, we have received many donations from the United States to support the country’s COVID-19 prevention efforts: 33.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX; various equipment such as ventilators, ICU beds, and low-capacity freezers; and medicines and medical supplies. We also received support for our national laboratories for vaccine-preventable diseases. We also received supplies and equipment from the World Health Organization.
Today we are happy to see the transfer to the Philippines of these laboratory equipment and medical supplies coming from the United States: one automated machine for the Bulacan Medical Center; 13,000 rapid antigen tests for the Bulacan Health Center; (inaudible) COVID test reagent for the Philippine Genome Center; 5,000 test kits for the Manila health department; and 103 different PPE and laundry supplies for Manila City schools.
These contributions coincide with a major increase in the capacity of the public health system to deliver critical care as part of our arsenal in the fight against COVID-19. We are deeply grateful to the United States Government for its assistance to the Philippines in responding to COVID-19 and protecting Filipinos with needed vaccines and technical assistance. Your help has helped save the lives of many Filipinos. Today, the health department has given more than 168 million vaccines. BIDA, Resbakuna, and now the Pinas Lakas campaign will not be successful without your help. We appreciate this long-term healthy partnership, and we hope this level lasts beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the next few months we will work to meet Mr. Bongbong Marcos, which is to vaccinate 90 percent of our senior citizens and give at least 50 percent to our people who deserve this first shot. The Department of Health aims to achieve this within the first 100 days of this government, and your help will go a long way. Recently, we launched the Pinas Lakas campaign encouraging everyone to get fully vaccinated – Pinas Lakas campaign encourages everyone to get fully vaccinated, especially our senior citizens or our population. We are working closely with other national agencies, our local governments, public and private stakeholders, and our development partners including USAID, to help prepare our communities – especially our teachers and children. – as we open our schools. one hundred percent face to face this school year.
More than ever, the pandemic has also emphasized the importance of universal health care for all, and as we aspire to universal health care for all Filipinos, the DOH is also grateful to USAID for providing technical assistance to prepare us to produce UHC. DOH, USAID, and other development partners are working together to establish the administrative, technical, and financial means for such work, strengthen the capacity of local governments and provide technical equipment to implement this important law here in the Philippines. We think that with this partnership with the US Government and other partners, we can provide health to every Filipino in the years to come.
In addition, we look forward to continuing to expand our cooperation to develop preventive measures, improve the work of the COVID-19 with our global health care efforts, thus strengthening our health system to prevent and respond to the development of epidemic in the future.
On behalf of the health department, I want to express my gratitude to the United States government for helping the Philippines get back on its feet and build well. Filipinos will never forget the kindness you showed in these difficult times. (In Filipino.) Thank you very much.