By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
EXPERTS. National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (left) welcomes three Israeli medical experts at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City on Sunday (June 20, 2021). With Galvez is Dr. Avi Ben-Zaken, deputy director of Israel’s Medical Technology and Infrastructure Administration and former head of the Covid-19 Control Center of the Israeli Ministry of Health. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Three Israeli experts arrived in Manila on Sunday to assist the Philippines in its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response and to share Israel’s best practices as one of the world leaders in vaccinating its population.
The team is composed of Avi Ben-Zaken, deputy director of medical technologies and infrastructure development at Ichilov Hospital; Dafna Segol, senior strategic planner at Covid-19 control center of the Israeli Ministry of Health; and Adam Segal, logistics and operations manager at SLE, who’s also experienced in resolving complex supply chain challenges.
From June 20 to 25, the delegation will meet with the Philippines’ top medical experts and visit some vaccination sites and cold storage facilities in Metro Manila.
“The inputs from our guest will enable us to fine-tune our approaches so that we can get the anti-Covid jab into the arms of as many Filipinos in the most effective and efficient ways possible,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said after welcoming the delegation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“We are optimistic that this week will provide us an opportunity to share our best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations on how we can further improve our vaccination systems and procedures, and realize our goal of achieving herd immunity within this year,” he added.
Galvez said the Israeli delegation would discuss how to boost vaccine uptake, efficiently deploy jabs, and how to handle “sensitive” vaccines, specifically those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.
The visit also comes timely as the country signs a deal to procure 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech jabs, which will arrive in the third and fourth quarter of the year.
“Israel is one of the world models in terms of efficient and swift deployment of vaccines so iyon ang gusto nating malaman (so that’s what we want to learn) to have some sort of minimized wastage,” Galvez told reporters in an interview.
Israel no longer requires its citizens to wear masks even indoors as its infections continue to decline following a robust vaccination program that has so far fully inoculated 59.49 percent of its population.
In an interview, Director Maria Soledad Antonio of the Bureau of International Health Cooperation bared that a visit from another Israeli delegation on “pandemic response” is also being eyed in July.
“Hindi pa namin nabubuo ‘yong program pero mayroong second batch, may plan mga July (We have not yet finalized the program but there will be a second batch, the plan is by July),” she said.
This is the second time that a team of foreign experts visited the country to share technical advice about responding to the health crisis.
Last April 2020, a Chinese medical team also visited Manila as the government was trying to ramp up its testing and contact tracing capacities.
Since that visit, Antonio said the country had increased its testing capacity to at least 50,000 to 70,000 a day and even improved its isolation facilities.
“Dahil successful ang vaccination rollout ng Israel, sila naman ang inimbitahan (Because Israel was successful in its rollout, we invited them here),” she said. (PNA)