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Last Monday, Go Negosyo conducted a webinar entitled, “One year in COVID: How are we doing and where do we go from here?” In that webinar, we were joined by industry and sector leaders from Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, and the Philippines, where they shared stories from their countries and narrated how they are fighting COVID-19 and traversing the road towards herd immunity. For Malaysia, we were joined by Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Munir Abdul Majid and Tony Fernandes; for Singapore, by Dr. Robert Yap; for Israel, by Shmuel Weiss; and for the Philippines, by Josephine Romero, Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, and Dr. Tony Leachon. We were also joined by Secretary Galvez, who gave a special message for everyone.
In the webinar, I shared the rationale of all our initiatives that covers our current health situation; our mission is to help our micro, small, and medium enterprises as they struggle with the current situation of our economy in limbo – closing, reopening, then closing again. As we face this difficult situation of trying to save both lives and livelihoods, the private sector and the public sector, with the utmost effort of Secretary Galvez, have been doing everything from testing, to vaccine procurement, and now with execution and vaccine administration. The benefit of more people being vaccinated clearly shows that we can open up the economy safely and this is the pathway moving forward. The private sector’s stake here is the economy and the only way that we can really balance both lives and livelihoods – attaining a perfect balance – is achieving herd immunity or vaccinating a greater number of the Filipino people.
For the success of this webinar, I would like to thank all our guests for spending their time with us, especially those from Malaysia, Singapore, and Israel. I know that your participation shows your readiness to face this pandemic and definitely win the war against COVID-19. I really enjoin all our citizens, our Filipino citizens; if you love this country, take the vaccine, it will save both lives and livelihoods. We look forward to a great quarter, a Merry Christmas, and we look forward to traveling in 2022 – we need everyone’s participation, a united stand, to be able to attain all of these. Moving forward, hopefully, the vaccine pass or passport will materialize so that we can really, as an ASEAN country, allow our citizens to be able to visit one another and return to normal times.
Here are the highlights from each of our distinguished speakers:
“I am excited that through this webinar, we will be able to listen and learn from the experiences of other countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and even Israel, on how they have carried out their respective vaccination programs, and hopefully, adopt their best practices…I’m also excited to join all of you in this event as this also aims to increase public uptake and address vaccine hesitancy among our countrymen whom I hope will be able to help us in encouraging our fellow Filipinos to get the jab…the government looks forward to working with you as we build back better a more progressive and resilient Philippines.” – Sec. Carlito Galvez, national task force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar.
“A whole-of-nation approach depends on an efficient and competent government. If there is sufficient and competent government, there will be good reception from the people, to what he says that people should do. And with these two, you can have the whole of nation approach, identify the objectives you have to do together. But to be together, there must be confidence in the government.” – Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia chair.
“We have to start preparing for a post-COVID world and no government is ready with a vaccine passport. The tourism industry needs that, it needs some proactive action on that side. Secondly [testing]. There are better and faster testing methodologies which must be cost-efficient to the public. And thirdly, we have to continue to invest in therapeutics because COVID is going to come in and out…We have to solve the misinformation. And we have to get people vaccinated. We have to prepare.” – Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO.
“To keep track on everybody and ensure that they go for a test, find where the infected people are and try to isolate them, these are the steps that we do very quickly to prevent these things from being very big…[vaccination] will help you open up your movement, but at the same time be cognizant of the future. So be future-ready, look at the future of work, and how you can pivot your business so that you will also take this opportunity to be future-ready at the same time.” – Dr. Robert Yap, ASEAN-BAC Singapore.
“Number one, it’s government involvement, no doubt…The second element after getting the decision is the supply chain and the distribution, how to report to the public, and making sure that actually you are building a supply chain, that it will work around the clock…With the proper steps, it’s achievable big time. If one of those major components are missing, it will not be completed, from experience.” – Shmuel Weiss, founder and CEO of Pass it Forward.
“Now, while we give access to the vaccines, there is hope, and our local government units and the private sector, even in the rural areas, are working hand in hand to increase the literacy both for testing and for vaccination. So we’re not so worried because there is heightened awareness…The collaboration and the spirit of Bayanihan, I think, is becoming stronger every day.” – Josephine Romero, A Dose of Hope vaccine initiative program lead.
“Pulsuhan means that we need to feel the pulse of the people. Alamin ang mga agam-agam at katanungan. We need to know their doubts, their fears, their questions. We need to respond to these particular doubts and fears and questions. We need to have dialogue and exchange of information with the people concerned, we need to embrace them too because we need a vaccine literate and vaccine protected public. Vaccination is an act of love. It is an act of citizenship. It is also an act of solidarity. So please consider having yourselves vaccinated if eligible and when there is available vaccine supply.” – Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, health social scientist and professor.
“There are five things we need to end the pandemic in the Philippines. I think we need authentic leadership and governance. We need a sense of urgency in the GDP. We need mass testing, contact tracing, and rapid vaccination at lightning speed, coupled with educational campaigns. So I’d like to echo the theme that really we need access, building confidence in the vaccines, and of course, execution is very important. So vaccination, because herd immunity, then it will lead to economic recovery and bringing back lives, then normalcy in our lives.” – Dr. Tony Leachon, health reform advocate.