Ms. Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the UNICEF Country Resident Representative, said her office has funded the solarization works of the cold room in Bansang, Central River Region, for the safe storage of vaccines.
The cold room was commissioned on August 7, 2016.
The UNICEF Country Rep said a comprehensive review of the EPI Programme in 2007 revealed that there was inadequate vaccine storage capacity for large quantities of vaccines at the regional level, especially in Central River Region.
“The prefabricated cold room, with a refrigeration capacity of 10 cubic meters, was therefore procured and installed with a stand-by generator in 2009 to store vaccines for both CRR and URR,” she said.
Ms. Nyanti said reports from the 2015 routine EPI supervisory visits revealed faults in the stand-by generator, thereby interrupting the full functioning of the cold room.
She said that in order to address this challenge, her institution saw the need to explore alternative sources of energy for the full and uninterrupted operation of the cold room. She noted that her office also supported the solarization works of the cold room which has been successfully completed and commissioned.
“The project received huge amount of investment and in that regard task the ministry of health, especially the regional health office, to make the best use of this facility, take maximum care of the equipment and endeavor to carry out regular preventive maintenance on the cold room,” she disclosed.
The UNICEF representative calls on the health ministry to create a budget line for the maintenance of the cold chain system as this will help the ministry to give timely response to urgent cold chain problems.
Fatou Lamin Faye, the Basic and Secondary Education Minister, said the availability of the vaccine cold room in Bansang will undoubtedly improve the storage conditions of vaccines thereby increasing the potency.
She also said the cold room will as such provide immunity for children and women in the country and will serve as support to the Upper and Central River regions thus making storage and distribution more reliable, effective and efficient.
“Effective vaccine management calls for adequate storage capacity with the required storage temperatures so as to deliver immunization service with potent vaccines, this cold room has the capacity to store all the vaccine requirements of both the Central and Upper River Regions and will save electricity, travel costs and time to collect vaccine from the national level,” said Mr. Omar Sey, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare.
The Programme Manager of Expanded Programme Immunization (EPI), Mr. Dawda Sowe, extends his appreciation to UNICEF for their timely intervention to save the ministry on vaccine storage, adding that this cold room will increase the vaccination coverage in the region as well as the country at large.