The Government of Japan has provided nearly $725 000 (about K574 million) support to Malawi’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts to enable government to improve cold chain capabilities through enhanced infrastructure, equipment, transportation and training for healthcare staff.
The financial support has been made as part of $36.9 million funding to 12 Latin American, Caribbean and African countries to improve cold chain management.
A statement issued by Unicef yesterday said the grant will boost the capacity of Malawi’s health system as it rolls out the largest and most rapid vaccination programme in its history.
Reads the statement in part: “Cold chain capabilities are essential for storing and transporting vaccines at the required temperatures if they are to remain effective.
“This is critical to ensuring that the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines does not overstretch existing capacities and disrupt essential, routine childhood immunisation services while also strengthening existing health systems so that Malawi continues to benefit from an improved cold chain system beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In the statement, Japanese Ambassador Satoshi Iwakiri said the grant, which comes from Japanese citizens, will facilitate the vaccination programme to safeguard the health of the people of Malawi.
He said: “The trilateral cooperation can promote Covid-19 recovery by building the capacity of the health system in Malawi.”
As the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, Unicef is the lead procurement and supply agency for Covax. In Malawi, Unicef has been supporting the Ministry of Health in strengthening its national immuniSation programme, which benefits millions of children every year.
On his part, Unicef Malawi representative Rudolf Schwenk said without proper storage and transport systems, it is impossible to take vaccines to the people who need them.
He said: “Procuring vaccines is only half the job. This support from the Government of Japan will help safely deliver Covid-19 vaccines across the country and ensure continuity of routine immuniSation services for children beyond Covid-19.”
To contribute towards achieving equitable access and swift distribution of vaccines iin the developing world, Japan has also contributed $200 million to the global Covax Facility.