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COVID-19 vaccination receives major boost as UNICEF procures vaccine storage facilities

BY: Mohammed Fugu
 Gladys Siuetey, a Cold Room Manager, taking Dr Mrunal Shetye, Chief of Health and Nutrition, UNICEF Ghana, through the operations of the storage machine
Gladys Siuetey, a Cold Room Manager, taking Dr Mrunal Shetye, Chief of Health and Nutrition, UNICEF Ghana, through the operations of the storage machine

COVID-19 vaccination is set to receive a further boost as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are in the process of procuring over 21 pieces of walking cold rooms and walking freezes to be installed at various regions across the country.

The vaccine storage facilities, which are expected to be supplied by the end of this month, would augment the country’s vaccine storage capacity.

Already, UNICEF, with support from the Government of Japan, in March this year, supplied a number of ultra-cold chain equipment to various regions to help store vaccines for the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign.

The Chief of Health and Nutrition, UNICEF Ghana, Dr Mrunal Shetye told the Daily Graphic that through UNICEF’s intervention, now, each region had ultra-cold chain equipment, which could store the very heat-sensitive Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and the Government of Japan have been collaborating to improve health and nutrition over the past years.

Through the collaboration, a new COVID-19 testing and diagnostic machine, with 2,000 test kits, is now used by the Eastern Regional Hospital. This is a significant resource for speedy testing and COVID-19 diagnosis.

Additionally, 36 pieces of ultra-cold chain equipment for storing vaccines at very low temperatures have been installed in regional and teaching hospitals across the country.

A team of officials from the UNICEF last week visited the Upper West Regional Cold Room, which benefited from the ultra-cold chain equipment to ascertain the impact of the storage facilities.

Dr Shetye lauded management of the Cold Room for putting the equipment to good use, saying “I am impressed about how everything is well organised, it just speaks of efficiency of management. So far, the team managing them are doing fantastic.

“We are now on the phase of expanding the existing capacity, so one of the places that are going to receive extra cold chain capacity is the Upper West Regional Cold Room. This will go a long way to boost the mass vaccination campaign” he noted.

Boost storage capacity

For her part, the Upper West Regional Cold Chain Manager, Mahama Rashida indicated that the equipment received from UNICEF had helped the region to boost its capacity to store enough COVID-19 vaccines.

“Before we received the equipment, we did not have enough space to store more vaccines, but now we have more space to even store other vaccines,” she said.

She, therefore, thanked the donors for the support and expressed her outfit’s commitment to ensuring that the equipment was put to good use to serve its purposes.