BARMM’s special vax days’ feat cited; 218K+ immunized

By Ali G. Macabalang & Noralyn A. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – The national government through the Department of Health (DOH) has cited the success of the Special Vaccination Days (SVD) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), notably in surpassing the goal of immunizing at least 214,471 people in the 10-day thrust.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with all local government units (LGUs) in BARMM staged the SVD last May 11-20, covering first the distant island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi before catering to the mainland provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao including the cities of Cotabato and Marawi, according to reports from the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO).

The SVD event culminated in Marawi City on May 20 in symbolic rite, drawing the presence of DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje and Undersecretary David Diciano of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unification (OPAPRU).

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“Thank you very much and congrats to MOH for (its) efforts and initiatives in conducting the SVD – a job well done,” Usec. Cabotaje, a physician, was quoted as saying in a BIO report.
 
A similar salutation was reportedly conveyed by Usec. Diciano. He represented OPAPRU Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., the government’s chief implementer in the national campaign to contain the COVID-19 pandemic threats.

The conduct of the SVD was ostensibly prompted by an earlier pronouncement of President Duterte about a dismal number of vaccinated people in BARMM. The President particularly mentioned a perceived hesitance of residents in remote villages like those of the island provinces.

The Presidential pronouncement has drawn an overwhelming response from LGUs in BARMM as the MOH reported a “102% accomplishment in the conduct of the 10-day SVD.

The MOH targeted at least 214,471 individuals for inoculation across the region in 10 days, but the SDV has actually caused the vaccination of 218,683 people.

The BIO presented breakdown of the figure on SVD-vaccinated individuals by province as follows: 
 
– Lanao Del Sur and Marawi City with 192% accomplishment or 121,279 vaccinated out of the 63,150 target;
 
– Sulu with 107.1% or 27,312 vaccinated out of the 25,500 target;
 
– Maguindanao with 75.5% or 53,085 vaccinated out of the 70,321 target;
 
– Tawi-Tawi with 61.1%. or 10,998 vaccinated of the 18,000 target; and
 
– Basilan and Lamitan City posted only 16% accomplishment or 6,009 vaccinated out of the 37,500 target. No reason was given.
 
Overall, however, the conduct of the SVD drive was impressive, according to MOH and DOH officials.

“We’ve surpassed the COVID-19 outbreak with few cases to minimal deaths but still we should not take it for granted because our enemy is not seen,” Dr. Cabotaje was quoted as saying in Marawi City’s ceremony.
 
For his part, MOH Officer-in-Charge Minister Dr. Zul Qarneyn Abas thankfully acknowledged his ministry’s partners in conducting the SVD.
 
“I would like to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to all of you, especially to our health warriors’ sacrifices, our DOH or the national government support, assistance of our local government, and our development stakeholders, for the smooth implementation of SVD,” Abas said in a BIO report.
 
“We are still hoping that on or before the end of June, we could still meet the 70% herd immunity in our region as the regular vaccination continues,” Abas added.
 
The conduct of the SVD has brought to a total of 1,066,653 fully vaccinated individuals, with 1,388,591 persons who received at least one dose of vaccine, the BIO citing an MOH data said.

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Leadership example

On the first day of SVD launch in Sulu on May 11, Governor Sakur Tan who faced no opponent in his reelection bid exemplified the essence of immunization amid the global health pandemic.

Gov. Tan underwent extra vaccination as a way of leading the government call for vaccination in his province.

“I, myself, was vaccinated with Sinovac twice, boosted once with Pfizer. Now, I received my second Pfizer booster to show that this vaccine is safe and effective, with a fatwa (Islamic ruling) from our Grand Mufti that it is halal. Moreover, it is free,” Gov. Tan was quoted as announcing it at the ceremony.

Workers of the MOH, the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), and the local government unit in Sulu revealed having used three strategies in the conduct of the SVD: Tapping of checkpoints, fixed posts  in Barangay or Rural Health Stations), and the house-to-house method, a BIO report said.

Similar strategies were reported in Lanao del Sur, resulting also in the massive immunization in the province. Lanao del Sur and Sulu have posted the highest accomplishment rates in the 10-day SVD. (AGM/NAM)

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