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Bangsamoro short of vital supplies amid coronavirus-ICM Ebrahim

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao- In an exclusive phone interview by Ankara-based Anadolu Agency on May 16, Bangsamoro Region Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Ahod B. Ebrahim said that Bangsamoro, the Philippines’ autonomous Muslim-majority region, is running low on food supplies and medical equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ebrahim said his government has spent over $39 million on its COVID-19 response until now.

“We are spending on medical, food, and other supplies, besides building quarantine facilities,” Ebrahim told Anadolu Agency.

“But we are running short of food supplies as we have advised people to follow general quarantine rules. So, our focus at the moment is food production.”
He said extensive measures were taken early to prevent a full-scale outbreak in Bangsamoro.

“We enforced social distancing requirements, reduced working hours in offices, and barred gatherings, including religious ones,” Ebrahim said during the interview by Anadolu Agency.

Educational institutions also remain closed, with online classes being held in areas with internet connectivity.

The steps have proven successful to an extent as the region of over five million people has 11 confirmed and 285 suspected coronavirus cases so far.

With only one hospital in the region equipped to treat COVID-19 cases, four of the 11 confirmed patients have died, while the remaining seven made successful recoveries.
According to ICM Ebrahim, that apart from just the solitary medical facility, lack of testing kits is another major problem for the region.

 “We are doing rapid testing as we do not have enough standard COVID-19 test kits. We have sent requests to the national government but are yet to receive any supplies,” he told Anadolu Agency.

He, however, acknowledged that the central government was facing a tough challenge in the capital Manila and northern parts of the Philippines.

They are the worst-hit areas of the archipelagic country, where the overall case count is over 12,000 with more than 800 deaths.

Ebrahim said the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) offered vital help to Bangsamoro by sending a mobile medical clinic to treat COVID-19 patients.

“We have asked for one more such clinic to bolster our capacity,” he said, adding that other Turkish aid organizations have also chipped in to help the region and its people.
“Other international groups and UN agencies are also supporting us in the fight against COVID-19,” Ebrahim said.