The United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) on Wednesday donated 26 vehicles and 89 motorcycles to the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) of children in the country.
Unicef Malawi country representative Johannes Wedenig said the vehicles, worth $4.2 million (about K3 billion), are meant to ease the Ministry of Health (MoH) transportation challenges during the immunisation exercise underway nationwide.
He said: “Unicef supports national efforts to realise children’s and women’s rights through improved child survival, development, protection and participation. Our focus has been on overcoming obstacles to full immunisation coverage and equity.”
Wedenig said Malawi’s EPI is one of the most successful in the African Region, considering that the programme has sustained a high immunisation coverage of above 80 percent of children.
In his remarks, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi thanked Unicef for the donation, saying it will help government reach out to children on the EPI in all districts.
Muluzi said Malawi has been receiving millions of dollars from Gavi for procurement of vaccines but the ministry has been facing transportation challenges.
He said: “Since 2002 and the inception of Gavi, Malawi has received over $272 million (about K199.9 billion), primarily for the procurement of new vaccines, but has also included some cash grants.
“Government is committed to meet its obligation of co-financing new vaccines, but the support from Gavi has meant that millions of Malawians have been vaccinated from a range of diseases, saving many lives in the process.”
The minister said Malawi has been approved for Health Systems and Immunisation Support (HSIS) in which the country will receive over $41 million (about K30.1 billion) for five years from 2018.
He added: “Over the next five years, the grant will see the MoH Project Implementation Unit (PIU) manage $29 million while Unicef will manage $12 million.”
The 2016 Malawi Demographic Health Survey shows that about 2.3 million children in the country need to be targeted in the immunisation initiative.
According MoH, the EPI programme is targeting at least 90 percent of national vaccination coverage with no district covering less than 80 percent of children.