The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has donated five 100kva and ten 20kva generators to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH&SW) to help boost the expansion of the country cold chain.
The COELMO brand high-power generators, which will be distributed amongst 13 of the 15 counties, are to help preserve vaccines that are distributed to the health centers in those areas.
Authorities say the expansion of the cold chain will have a direct impact on the Expanded Immunization program for Liberia, especially by ensuring that vaccine remains at the right temperature from the time they arrive in the country to the time they are administered to infants and children.
Supported by GAVI funds, UNICEF in collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO) procured the generators. UNICEF will also help in the transportation and installation of each generator at county hospitals. The total cost of the initiative is $173, 032.
UNICEF Country Representative, Sheldon Yett, on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014, handover the generators to Acting Health Minister Matthew Flomo at a ceremony held at the National Drug Supply (NDS) office situated at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia
Representative Yett noted that the generators will be of great help to the delivery of vaccines services in the country as they will provide reliable power supply to keep the vaccines at the require temperature through the MOH&SW cold chain system.
He said the expansion of the cold chain will have a direct impact on the Expanded Immunization program for Liberia (EPI), especially by ensuring that vaccines remains at the right temperature from the time they arrive in the country to the time they are administered to infants and children.
“This is significant as childhood immunization is widely recognized as an effective strategy to reduce under-five mortality, averting an estimated 2.5 million deaths annually. As such immunization contributes towards the achievement of MDG4 that aims to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015,” he said
The UNICEF boss said his organization is committed to providing all children in Liberia with the opportunity to access immunization services and protection from vaccine preventable diseases as part of its equity mandate.
“UNICEF Liberia ensures the availability of all vaccines in the national EPI schedule in adequate quantities in all 15 counties, with provision of vaccines, essential supplies and technical assistance to support cold chain and communication activities,” Rep. Yett said.
Expansion of the cold chain is necessary to support the introduction of two new vaccines to the national immunization schedule in late 2014 early 2015 – namely the rotavirus vaccine and IPV (inactivated polio vaccine).
The expansion will also support the pilot of the introduction of the HPV vaccine in Bong and Nimba Counties.
Acting Health Minister Matthew Flomo, upon receiving the keys of the generators, said the donation comes with much relief because it becomes difficult at times for the ministry to maintain the vaccines at the right temperature due to shortages or lack of power.
“This donation comes with much relief for us at the ministry of health because we have been having some difficulties in maintain the requisite temperature levels of our various types of vaccines that we received from our partners. With these generators, we will ensure that those vaccines, especially at the county level will be constantly kept in at the require temperature. This is why we are very grateful to the UNICEF for these donations. It will help us in preserving the qualities of our vaccines.”
He lauded UNICEF and partners for what he termed as a great gesture that will help save the lives of many Liberian children.
Meanwhile, the generators will support expansion of county level cold chain for proper vaccine storage, especially as the government adds two new vaccines to the programme nationwide.
As county vaccine depots are located at the hospitals, the generators have an added benefit of providing a reliable electric current to the hospitals, indirectly supporting provision of all health services.
Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties will not be recipients of the donation as they already have solar panels that are still working.
The generators will be distributed as follow: One 100kva generator to Montserrado County, two 100kva generators to Bong County, two 100kva generators to Grand Gedeh County.
One 20kva each generator to Gbarpolu, Lofa, Margibi, Nimba (Sanniquellie), River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe, River Cess and Grand Bassa counties.
The larger generators are being given to Montserrado, Bong and Grand Gedeh for strategic purposes.
For Montserrado, it is the seat of the EPI programme and first stop on the “chain” in terms of receiving the vaccines in country then getting them to the counties.
For Bong and Grand Gedeh, each of which get two 100kva generators, the idea is that the capitals of those counties can keep vaccine stocks cold for nearby counties that would otherwise have to rely on Monrovia for all supplies. In other words, it helps to decentralize EPI.