Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister Of Health Receiving The Donated Items.
Banjul, 16 May 2023
UNICEF and the Embassy of Japan in Senegal, accredited to The Gambia, handed over more than 1.5 million USD in supplies to support the Ministry of Health of The Gambia to strengthen national immunization services. The supplies, which include 17vehicles, 50 motorbikes, 130 cold boxes, and 49 vaccine freezers, will enhance the safe and effective storage and management of vaccines throughout the country and the mobility of vaccination teams in order to contribute to the national priority of sustaining immunization rates amongst priority populations.
The supplies are part of a $2.5 million project funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNICEF to help strengthen The Gambia’s health system and COVID-19 response, that also includes strengthening infection prevention and control measures and enhancing local capacity to handle and manage vaccines.
“These supplies represent an important investment in national immunization services in The Gambia,” said Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health of The Gambia. “The vehicles and other materials will help to improve access to immunization services by enhancing the mobility of vaccinators and safe vaccine storage. The Ministry of Health is grateful to the Government of Japan and UNICEF for the strong partnership in strengthening our health system.”
The cold chain systems will significantly expand access to immunization services and make vaccine storage facilities available in 49 health facilities across the country. Twenty-one of these 49 health facilities will be having immunization cold chain equipment for the first time. Some of the cold chain equipment also come with a remote temperature monitoring system to ensure vaccines are monitored in real time and remain stored within the recommended temperature. All vaccine fridges come with solar panels, making them more reliable and environmentally sustainable.
“The Government of Japan recognizes the importance of investing in health for sustainable development,” said H.E. Osamu Izawa, JapaneseAmbassador accredited to The Gambia. “We hope that these supplies will help The Gambia scale up access to immunization services and protect more people from vaccine-preventable diseases, including COVID-19. Japan will continue to foster a stronger partnership with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF in supporting The Gambia’s health system.”
“Every child has the right to be vaccinated and protected from diseases”, said Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF The Gambia Representative. “We are convinced that these supplies, coupled with other critical investments made by UNICEF and partners during the COVID-19 pandemic, will help The Gambia emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more responsive health system. The Government of Japan and UNICEF maintain a strong partnership and,together with the Ministry of Health, we will continue to support the survival and development of children in The Gambia.”
With the funds provided by Japan, UNICEF also supported two nationwide COVID-19 immunization campaigns in September 2022 and March 2023, helping to vaccinate tens of thousands of people, and contributing to increasing the vaccination rate amongst the total population to more than 21 per cent. Similarly, handwashing stations have been installed in 25 health facilities across The Gambia as part of infection prevention and control measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.