Save the Children Philippines steps up its COVID-19 response by distributing handwashing facilities, food packs, and hygiene kits in conflict-affected areas of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and ease the impact of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on children and their families, particularly those in hard-to-reach areas.
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said children and their families who live in conflict-afflicted zones are the most vulnerable, and at risk during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic due to fragile and limited healthcare systems in their areas.
“We continue to partner with local government units in these areas to ensure marginalized children and their families have access to life-saving support such as hygiene kits and handwashing facilities to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Muyot.
As of May 7, the Department of Health has recorded at least 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases in BARMM and Region 10, with 11 deaths, and 779 persons under monitoring.
Save the Children Philippines’ ReACH 2 Teach project funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has distributed a total of 16 portable and child-friendly handwashing facilities in major checkpoints and quarantine facilities in Cotabato City, Iligan City, Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.
Edwin Horca, Head of Save the Children Philippines – BARMM offices said the COVID-19 pandemic has tremendous impact in the lives of marginalized children and their families, as well as indigenous people who do not have access to healthcare systems and adequate water and sanitation facilities.
The team also distributed food packs to medical and security frontliners, including garbage collectors and sanitation workers. Food assistance to frontliners in BARMM ensures that basic needs and physical well-being are sustained while they continue to respond to the crisis in their respective areas, said Horca.
“Save the Children will continue to provide life-saving emergency kits to disadvantaged children and their families that include hygiene essentials, and food vouchers to ensure that they are protected from COVID-19 and have access nutritious food,” he added.
Cotabato City Health Officer Dr. Meyasser Patadon welcomed the emergency assistance provided by Save the Children Philippines and the EU, as she cited the lack of capacity of the local government to deliver sufficient health services for its people. She said the city government was overwhelmed with the demand in addressing the needs of their patients and health workers due to their limited supplies.
Horca said Save the Children Philippines through the ReACH to Teach project with the EU will continue to raise public awareness to ensure children and their families can protect themselves from COVID-19, and support distance learning or alternative education for children who continue to miss out on school.
He said the Cotabato City Health Office has expressed willingness to coordinate with different agencies, offices and organizations on COVID-19 awareness campaign, and proper hygiene and handwashing. Save the Children will also assist the Department of Education to mandate schools in promoting proper handwashing practices. The child-rights organization has also partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry’s shared service facilities to provide livelihood opportunities to families and households affected by the Marawi crisis.
Save the Children Philippines’ overall response in BARMM reached 32,519 individuals.