Meet Dr. Muhammad Candao. He has 15 years of experience as a registered medical technologist. He is pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor. He wants to serve the community as the health quarantine focal person and the Officer-in-Charge of the Health and Emergency Management Services of the Ministry of Health - Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Philippines - The COVID-19 pandemic poses a great threat to communities across the Philippines. This is true especially for those in Mindanao. The region remains vulnerable due to longstanding conflict. It has a fragile health system. The pressure to frontliners has increased.

Muhammad oversees a team of health care providers. To him, caring for patients in crisis rearms his commitment to serve the community.

It was certainly a challenging experience for Muhammad and his team.  COVID-19 evolved and came closer rapidly. There was a lack of resources and limitations on COVID-19 testing and safe transportation of vaccines. There is also a need for capacity building in the management of testing facilities.

To support the region’s COVID-19 response, IOM, with support from the Government of Germany, provided a training on Laboratory Quality Management System. It aims to enhance BARMM’s laboratory services. It aims to promote quality that will ensure accuracy, reliability and timeliness of the overall testing process.

Muhammad expressed his gratitude for the support and assistance provided to his team. The training gave them confidence and a better ability to be more effective and efcient in health operations. They now fulfilll quality requirements in the region they serve.

“This is very important to us because prompt diagnosis means prompt response, which would result to better control of this pandemic.”

Through the project, IOM has also provided 2,500 rapid antigen testing kits, 100 pulse oximeters and 15 alcohol dispensers with thermometers to local health facilities. IOM will continue to work with the Bangsamoro government.

There are plans to further provide three land ambulances for safe and prompt transfer of patients, two cold chain vehicles and four ultra-low temperature freezers for proper transport and storage of specimens and vaccines, and other medical equipment. All to improve the quality and capacity of COVID-19 response.

With better equipment and training, the health team from the Bangsamoro region now has a better understanding of the virus that causes COVID-19. It helps them speed up and strengthen their response to save more lives.

IOM receives funding from the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) for “Strengthening IOM's COVID-19 Life-Saving Response in Humanitarian Settings” in several countries around the world as part of IOM’s Strategic Response and Recovery Plan for COVID-19 (SRRP). ). We would like to tell the stories of some of the people who benefited from this support.

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities