Australia to ship P48.3M walk-in freezers to PH

MANILA – The Australian government is set to deliver by this month eight walk-in cold storage rooms amounting to AUD1.38 million (approximately PHP48.3 million) to help Philippine provinces store their sensitive vaccines like Pfizer.

The donation is part of Australia’s PHP1.25 billion aid to support Manila in its response against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and were procured with the help of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“I think at the end of this month, the storage facility is arriving in the country and it will be delivered in November,” Than Le, Australian Embassy counsellor for development, told reporters in an interview on Wednesday night.

“Once it’s in and working, there is still an amount to be programmed for the year 2022-2023 and I think we’ll then sit down with the Department of Health about what’s your next level priority,” he said.

The key beneficiaries of these eight cold walk-in storage rooms and related equipment are Bicol, Caraga, Cordillera Administrative Region, Soccsksargen, Surigao del Sur, Nueva Ecija, Zamboanga del Norte, and Isabela.

“There are other regions receiving lower scale but still cold chain-related equipment,” he told the Philippine News Agency.

He said negotiations are also ongoing for the procurement of Australia-funded Covid-19 vaccine doses worth PHP525 million, also with the assistance of UNICEF.

Aside from cold storage and vaccine donations, Canberra’s PHP1.25 billion Covid-19 assistance to the Philippines includes vaccine delivery support and efforts to strengthen the country’s testing capabilities.

“As part of our health security work, we supported molecular laboratories in Manila and Mindanao, which together has the capability to test 18,000 samples a day and has significantly contributed to enhancing the testing capacity in the Philippines,” Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson AO said.

Of the overall Australian Covid-19 aid, at least PHP432 million will be allocated to support the evolving health priorities of the Philippines over 2022 to 2023.