The COVID-19 pandemic situation around the world has remained volatile in 2021. During the first half of the year, Singapore’s neighbouring countries have experienced a second and even a third wave of the pandemic. The COVID-19 situation in Cambodia began to worsen in late February, signaling a need for the supply of a large quantity of medical supplies such as medical masks, medical protective outfits, gloves, etc. Sadly, the prices of these medical supplies that meet the required standard are too high, making it too costly to buy these items locally to meet the demand.
Given the urgency of the matter, the government of Cambodia had sought assistance from Tzu Chi Cambodia for the provision of medical supplies in April. Under the coordination of Tzu Chi Taiwan, medical supplies had been shipped to Cambodia by Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Organization (Singapore)(also known as "Tzu Chi Organization (Singapore)") on 24 April. Among the donated medical supplies, nearly half came from Tzu Chi Taiwan while the other half was donated by local entrepreneurs.
In total, both parties had donated 324 thousand medical masks, 600 thousand pairs of gloves, 600 PPEs, 32 wheelchairs and 4 medical beds.
In response to the deteriorating pandemic situation in Southeast Asia at the start of 2021, Tzu Chi Taiwan had dispatched some medical supplies and stored them in Singapore. It was hoped that by taking advantage of Singapore’s strategic geographical location as a logistic hub, the aid supplies could be shipped from Singapore to its neighbouring countries whenever a need arises. Two local businessmen, Er Ah Hwee and Dennis Koh had also generously donated half of the medical supplies after learning about the plan to ship medical supplies to Cambodia through Tzu Chi Singapore Entrepreneur Association.
On 15 April, the Cambodian government had announced a two-week national lockdown. This resulted in various obstacles in the transportation of goods into the country. Despite the challenges in delivering the medical supplies, the donated items had safely arrived in Cambodia on 27 April and were handed over to Tzu Chi’s partner, Samdech Techo Voluntary Youth Doctor Association (TYDA), which will be distributing the items to medical front liners.
The partnership between Tzu Chi Singapore and TYDA dates back to May 2018. Both parties signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly organise free clinics to provide medical and emergency support for impoverished patients with sickness in Cambodia. In December, the CEO of TYDA had also led a team of doctors to Singapore to attend a medical seminar. During the trip, the TYDA team visited Tzu Chi Da Ai Gallery in Sembawang, and that set a good foundation for this partnership.
Tzu Chi Cambodia Person-in-charge, Hsieh Ming-hsuan conveyed the thank you message by TYDA, which said that the medical front liners recognise all the PPE donated by Tzu Chi because Tzu Chi’s medical supplies are up to standard.
Tzu Chi Singapore Deputy CEO, Khoo Kean Yee, who is responsible for coordinating the matters related to aid material donations, said that whichever neighbouring county is in need of help, Tzu Chi will try its best to help. He added, “Certainly, we don’t want the pandemic to deteriorate further, so we must be fully prepared.”