Canada pledges P44.5 million in COVID-19 aid to Philippines

Canada pledges P44.5 million in COVID-19 aid to Philippines
A staff member of a restaurant attends to a customer through a plastic sheet used as a divider as part of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in a mall in Manila on June 2, 2020, a day after the government eased up quarantine measures in the country's capital.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Canada said it is providing P44.5 million worth of assistance to support the country’s fight against the spread of coronavirus disease.

In a statement Wednesday, the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines said Ottawa will donate 120,000 pieces of N95 masks worth around P29.5 million.

Also part of Canada’s aid is the provision of around P15.2 million to “ensure the unhampered provision of sexual and reproductive health services during COVID-19.”

Canada is supporting the Sexual Health and Empowerment Philippines (SHE) project of non-governmental organization Oxfam, which aims to improve the quality and availability of health services of women or reproductive ages as well as adolescents in disadvantaged areas in the Philippines.

“This investment complements ongoing response activities, including the establishment of an emergency hotline for health services and gender-based violence, procurement of PPEs for barangay health workers, and distribution of family planning information materials,” the Canadian Embassy said.

In May, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights urged the government to ensure the availability and access to essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services as part of its COVID-19 response.

The group was among 46 signatories in a separate statement calling for "clear mechanisms to ensure availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of sexual and reproductive health information and services."

"Before the pandemic, it was estimated that 2,400 women and girls die every year in the Philippines from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth including postpartum hemorrhage, complications from unsafe abortion, hypertensive disorders and sepsis," the statement read. 

"There is a high probability that these preventable deaths would only increase with diminished health system resources, lack of immediate access to accurate reproductive health information and services, inadequate transportation facilities, and decreased or total loss of income and employment opportunities in a COVID-19 response that fails to take into account the specific needs of women’s reproductive health and rights."

Canada said the Philippines is also one of the countries that will receive COVID-19 diagnostic equipment, testing kits, reagents and laboratory consumables.

The Philippines has so far reported 22,992 COVID-19 cases, with 4,736 recoveries and 1,017 fatalities. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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