By Hassan Zaggi
Nigeria and 31 other countries in Africa and Latin America affected by Covid-19 are to benefit from the US$39 million emergency funds from the government of Japan. The funds will be given to the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) for implementation.
This is contained in a statement by the UNICEF, Monday.
According to the statement: “The Government of Japan announced that it will provide approximately US$39 million in emergency funds to UNICEF for the development of vaccine cold chains in Nigeria and 31 countries in Africa and Latin America affected by COVID-19.
“The support from the Government of Japan complements the work of the COVAX Facility, an international vaccine procurement mechanism working to ensure that people in all countries have quick and equitable access to vaccines.
“With these funds, UNICEF will work with the government to provide cold chain equipment in priority storage sites based on gap analyses, to improve storage capacity for vaccines and facilitate monitoring of the vaccine potency.
“This has a far-reaching impact on the overall goal of the COVID-19 prevention strategy in the country through vaccination, as well as the entire immunization program for child survival.
“A walk-in freezer room will be installed in each of the selected six states. This includes solar vaccine refrigerators to be installed in 175 wards that have a gap in vaccine storage capacity.
“Temperature monitoring devices will be installed across 18 state cold stores, and technical assistance will be provided to carry out the setting up and maintenance of the equipment and devices. These supplies will ensure the quality of the vaccines.”
The statement however, quoted Rushnan Murtaza, Officer in Charge, Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, as saying: “We welcome the generous support of the Government and the people of Japan to Nigeria, as we continue to grapple with the impact of COVID-19.
“These funds will allow us to more effectively implement the strategy to ensure as many Nigerians as possible receive COVID-19 vaccinations, ensuring timeliness and efficacy of the vaccines, so that we can work towards a better future for all. UNICEF will continue to work with the Government of Nigeria, Government of Japan and other partners to support the COVID-19 response and to deliver positive outcomes for child survival and promote equitable access to vaccines for all.”
It would be recalled that UNICEF has played a central role in supporting the procurement, transportation, and storage of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria and other countries, taking advantage of its long-standing vaccine procurement, storage, and transportation experience, as well as its existing immunization infrastructure.