The Ministry of Health has handed over 10 ultra-low cold chain vaccine transportation vehicles to the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The Toyota Land Cruiser brand fitted with vaccine refrigerators were purchased by the government to facilitate the rapid distribution of vaccines nationwide, including hard-to-reach areas.
At a ceremony in Accra yesterday to hand over the vehicles, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said in the event that some areas could not be accessed at all by the vehicles, the drone technology would be deployed.
The minister said that would complete the national last mile distribution chain instituted to ensure that everybody, regardless of geographical location, had access to vaccines and other medical supplies.
He said with adequate vaccines in the system, the cold chain transportation facility would help to accelerate the delivery of the country’s herd immunity of at least, 60 per cent of the population by the close of the year.
“Vaccines are such that if not stored and transported according to their cold chain requirements, they will go bad within the shortest time, and this is what we want to avoid. We have targeted not to waste more than five per cent of our vaccines,” Mr Agyeman-Manu said.
He said the cold chain storage and transportation facilities would help the country to reduce the target below five per cent towards a zero wastage.
Mr Agyeman-Manu expressed the hope that Ghana’s international acclaim as having the best COVID-19 response mechanisms and results along with South Korea would inspire even better delivery.
The minister said the country was scaling up its vaccination protocols and that by next month, the vaccine mandate implementation would be in full swing.
He said when that happened, unvaccinated individuals would be denied access to some public places, including places of worship, and applauded churches and mosques for cooperating in the enforcement of the safety protocols.
“I cannot hide my excitement and joy after seeing these vehicles that we were looking for even earlier than now. They are to support our national vaccination activities, one of the pillars of our response, to limit and eventually stop the spread of the virus,” he said.
The Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said the country was racing against time to avert a fourth wave.
He said the role of the vaccine transportation cold chain could not be overemphasised because it would help to rapidly deploy the vaccines to everybody.
“At some of the villages, they wait for the farmers to return from the farm before they start vaccination, and so these vehicles would not only help to transport the vaccines but store them adequately until they are deployed,” he said.
Health experts have explained that the purpose of the vaccine cold chain is to maintain product quality from the time of manufacture until the point of administration.
It is also to ensure that vaccines are stored and transported within World Health Organisation-recommended temperature ranges.
A biological product, if vaccines get too hot or too cold, the active ingredients can degrade and become less effective.
The vaccine cold chain is a global network of cold rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes and carriers that keep vaccines at the right temperature during each link on the long journey from the manufacturing line to the syringe.