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Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde (center) receives a donation of face masks from UNDP Resident Representative Titon Mitra (right) in a turnover ceremony at the health department%u2019s main office in Manila on July 8, 2020 / UNDP

UNDP donates 500,000 masks to DOH 

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) witnessed the handover of 500,000 surgical masks donated by the Soong Ching Ling Foundation (SCLF) of Beijing, China, through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on July 8. 

The surgical masks, valued at 1.2 million Chinese renminbi, were turned over by UNDP Country Representative Titon Mitra to Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Mario Villaverde, representing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in a simple ceremony at the DOH San Lazaro compound in Manila.

Witnessing the donation was Emma Sarne, director of the socio-cultural division of the Office of the United Nations and International Organizations (UNIO).

According to a news release issued on Friday, Mitra extended his appreciation to the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, an NGO based in Beijing that has been helping countries in the region source much-needed medical supplies.

He mentioned that the donated surgical masks are in recognition and acknowledgment of the invaluable work done by the DOH front-liners in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Reading Duque’s message, Villaverde lauded the department’s 40-year partnership with UNDP-Philippines, which has been instrumental in developing the country’s, particularly the DOH’s, capacity in governance, sustainable resource management, disaster risk reduction, and resilience, and peace-building.

He said recent engagements with UNDP include support and capacity building for data warehouse establishment and crisis and procurement management.

In formally accepting the donation and expressing the DOH’s appreciation, Villaverde noted that the surgical masks would be committed to protecting the most vulnerable.

He also expressed optimism that “we will rise above the current crisis and heal as one.”

The DFA, through the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, UNDP-Philippines, and UNDP-China facilitated the transport and clearance of the donation for the DOH, which came at an auspicious time as the country is seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases and medical supplies, including surgical masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, and other equipment are much needed.

The UNDP-Philippines has been working with the DOH, particularly in the field of data management and the development of an electronic dashboard to track hospital capacities and medical stocks.

It is in the process of rolling out in the country an innovative vaccine management system that is currently being used in India and, more recently, in Indonesia.

The electronic and web-based system is a way of “getting ahead of the curve” as this would facilitate the monitoring and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, should this be developed, in remote and other areas where they are most needed.


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