Aug 25, Colombo: The Ministry of Health has today received the second batch of cold chain equipment procured by UNICEF with funding from the Government of Japan to strengthen Sri Lanka’s delivery of immunization services, including against COVID-19.
Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama and Christian Skoog, Representative of UNICEF Sri Lanka, handed over the second batch of cold chain equipment to the Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella at the Ministry Wednesday, 25 August.
The first batch of 500 vaccine carriers were handed over to the Ministry of Health in April, 2021.
Ambassador Sugiyama warmly congratulated Minister Rambukwella on his appointment as Minister of Health and reaffirmed Japan’s solidarity with Sri Lanka in fighting COVID-19 and commitment to continuing assistance for the health sector of Sri Lanka.
The second batch includes 750 vaccine carriers, 300 cold boxes, 100 Ice-Lined Refrigerators (ILRs), 145 fridge temperature monitors and Android Tablets for effective management of vaccines. These cold chain equipment are indispensable to keep vaccines at the required storage condition, including temperature, to maintain the vaccine’s quality and effectiveness.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Minister Rambukwella said, Immunization is a key pillar of the healthcare system in Sri Lanka to protect our people from vaccine preventable diseases and the equipment from the Government of Japan are a crucial input to strengthen the delivery of vaccinations.
“The Government of Japan is a long-standing partner of the people and Government of Sri Lanka and I want to acknowledge the support and collaboration over the years. I want to also recognize the crucial role of UNICEF in supporting the immunization system in Sri Lanka, including procurement of such critical supplies,” he said.
Ambassador Sugiyama noted “The Government of Japan believes that the cold chain equipment provided today will be of great help to ensure safe and prompt distribution of vaccines to the people of Sri Lanka through adequate storage and transportation of vaccines. Further to this, Japan has provided approximately 1.45 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan to Sri Lanka through the COVAX Facility with the support of UNICEF. We believe that the provision of vaccines and cold chain equipment will further accelerate the vaccination program in Sri Lanka and contribute to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.”
Sri Lanka is currently rolling out vaccinations against COVID-19 for priority populations, in line with the National Vaccine Deployment Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH).
“The cold chain system is the backbone of a strong immunization system. Such is the importance of the equipment that the Government of Japan has provided to the people of Sri Lanka”, said Mr. Skoog.
“UNICEF, together with partners will continue to support Sri Lanka’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the overall immunization capacity, including to receive, store and implement vaccinations not only against COVID-19 but also other vaccine preventable diseases. It is critical that children continue to have access to existing vaccinations to prevent other disease outbreaks alongside the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mr. Skoog added.