The Japanese government has, through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), provided a grant of about to K10 million (221 million Japanese Yen) to support the expansion of the cold chain aimed at improving Zambia’s vaccine management through infrastructure support and development.
The project will see the procurement of a total of 423 refrigerators and 500 cold boxes which will translate into the expansion of the capacity of the cold chain from 45,200 litres to 59,550 in 2015.
Part of the cold chain equipment, which includes 300 solar refrigerators meant for rural areas, electricity refrigerators, vaccine carriers, installation toolkits and refrigerator accessories, have already been handed over to the Zambian government by Japan.
The handover today signifies the commencement of the project which will also see the training of 65 technical staff to gain knowledge and skills on the sustainability of the cold chain system in Zambia.
Japanese ambassador to Zambia Kiyoshi Koinuma made the handover on behalf of his government while Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi received the donated items on behalf of the Zambian government.
Ms. Kabanshi noted during the handover function that the donation will benefit children who are the direct beneficiaries of immunization services in Zambia.
She said the donation of vaccine refrigerators will help in addressing the storage gaps at districts and health centres in six provinces of Zambia.
She has since commended the Japanese government and other partners for supporting Zambia in the areas of cold chain investments.
And Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Kiyoshi Koinuma said the project is aimed at promoting child health through improved access to quality and effective immunization against vaccine preventable diseases.
Mr. Koinuma disclosed that his country, through the project, will vaccinate 550,000 newly born children and protect them against vaccine preventable diseases by 2015.
The ambassador was optimistic that the project would make a significant contribution to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number four which aims at reducing child mortality in Zambia by 2015.
TheK10 million worth project has been entrusted to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for implementation.
UNICEF Country Representative Hamid El-Bashir noted that the equipment will build capacity of district to store and manage vaccines and ensure the delivery of a high impact intervention of unrivaled effectiveness of mothers and children in Zambia.
Dr. El-Bashir disclosed that 350 refrigerators and 500 vaccine carriers plus several spares and accessories have been procured and are already in the country.
He added that 73 more refrigerators will be procured in the coming months bringing the total to 423 refrigerators that will be procured under the project.