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Drop plans to build mega jab center, decentralize vaccination efforts â groups
Photo shows the Nayong Pilipino property in Parañaque City.
Nayong Pilipino

Drop plans to build mega jab center, decentralize vaccination efforts — groups

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - May 12, 2021 - 5:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government should invest in decentralizing vaccination efforts in the country to bring them closer to people instead of building a massive COVID-19 vaccination facility at the Nayong Pilipino grounds in Parañaque City, civil society organizations said Wednesday.

At least 30 organizations called on the government to halt the “ill-advised” plan to establish a temporary inoculation site, saying the facility will deepen vaccine inequity and defeat the purpose of the vaccination program.

“It will marginalize people and groups who have limited access and mobility options to reach the centralized sites. It would concentrate the vaccines and vaccine administration to one company that controls one site that would need to be accessed by hundreds of thousands of people,” they said in a joint statement.

The vaccination center is planned to be erected in an 8.5-hectare portion of the park’s property located within a gaming and entertainment complex.

Community-based facilities such as sports complex and open grounds should be tapped for the vaccination drive, the groups suggested.

“We urge the government to abandon this questionable project and institute solutions that are accessible, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable,” they said.

‘Health crisis, not crisis of trees’

In an interview with CNN Philippines Tuesday, ports and gaming tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. defended the project, which is seen to damage the existing ecosystem in the area.

Razon chairs the International Container Terminal Services Incorporated Foundation, which will fund the facility.

The planned vaccination hub aims to inoculate between 8,000 and 12,000 people daily, and will have drive-thru services and medical stations.

“People are dying every day and we need to vaccinate the people to be able to open the economy. At the rate the vaccinations are going, it will take years to obtain herd immunity and we cannot wait years. We have to do this now,” he said.

Vaccination in the country has been slow with only 514,655 people being fully inoculated since the immunization program began in March, far from the government's goal of vaccinating 70 million.

“This is the largest crisis we’ll ever face. It’s not a crisis of ipil-ipil trees,” the billionaire added.

The Nayong Pilipino Foundation said 500 trees are expected to be cut down to give way to the construction of the vaccination center.

The government-owned and controlled corporation said the urban forest within the property is the “last remaining grassland” in the reclaimed area Parañaque.

People’s health and environment

The groups said the argument of the project proponents that protecting trees should not equate to protecting people’s lives “manipulates people into a false choice that pits people’s health against nature.”

“The question decision-makers need to be asking is not whether we should build the mega vaccine center and cut the trees. The question is whether this is the kind of facility the country needs to make the vaccine accessible to more people,” they said.

The organizations also pointed out that people’s health is dependent on a healthy environment.

“It is important to recognize the connection between people’s health and a healthy environment, between environmental destruction and diseases, as well as the ability of communities to cope with diseases… The government must keep in mind that COVID recovery plans must include protecting the health of our environment,” they said.

Among the signatories of the statement are Greenpeace Philippines, Oceana Philippines, Ecowaste Coalition, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia, and Move As One Coalition.

COVID-19 VACCINES NAYONG PILIPINO FOUNDATION NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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