U.S. continues support for pandemic response, disaster recovery in Surigao del Norte

The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently delivered additional COVID-19 response supplies and humanitarian assistance to help communities in Surigao del Norte recover from the dual effects of Typhoon Odette and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a visit to Siargao Island on September 27, USAID Philippines Health Office Director Michelle Lang-Alli and Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance Officer Rachel Gallagher led the handover of more than Php 11.5 million ($200,000) worth of COVID-19 response supplies and equipment, including 28,000 rapid antigen test kits, 10 generator sets and field tents, 22 laptops and routers, 50 oxygen tanks, 10 oxygen concentrators, and vital sign monitoring equipment.   This additional assistance will help the local government test more residents, promote home-care strategies for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, and mobilize community healthcare workers for local vaccination advocacy campaigns.  It also highlights the U.S. government’s continued support for COVID-19 response and mental health during times of crisis.

“In collaboration with our partners, these efforts to bring COVID-19 cases down to manageable levels challenge us to work toward adaptive solutions to further strengthen the resilience of local communities,” said USAID Philippines Health Office Director Lang-Alli.

On September 28, USAID also handed over mental health and psychosocial support kits to help families recover from trauma caused by Typhoon Odette.  These kits complement USAID’s mental health training for frontline responders and health care providers and further support child- and women-friendly spaces that provide medical, psychosocial, and gender-based violence case management services.

The U.S. government has supported Surigao del Norte’s COVID-19 response and vaccination roll-out by deploying mobile vaccination teams and testing units, medical technologists, data encoders, and operational support.

“USAID has been a steady and reliable partner as we pick up from the devastating effects of the typhoon and rebuild lives as we continue to grapple with the pandemic,” said Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers.  “USAID assistance enabled us to provide vaccines and further improve patient care and management of COVID-19 cases.”

To date, USAID has provided a total of Php 1.7 billion ($29.650 million) in emergency humanitarian relief assistance and COVID-19 medical equipment and laboratory supplies to communities affected by Typhoon Odette.  This includes support for vaccination, infection prevention and control, risk communication, training for COVID-19 responders, reducing gender-based violence, increasing access to sexual and reproductive health services, and supporting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of crisis-affected communities.