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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Japan and Unicef unite against Covid-19 through strengthening of the cold chain capacity in The Gambia

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Press release, Unicef, Banjul

The government of Japan, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has provided $US2.5 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to support The Gambia government’s efforts against Covid-19.  This funding will be used to support Infection and prevention control measures to ensure continuation of critical lifesaving services, procure cold chain equipment and related supplies, upgrade and strengthen regional and sub-regional cold stores and provide capacity building assistance to promote Covid-19 vaccination in The Gambia.

The funds will complement national efforts to reach its target vaccination rate of 70 per cent among eligible adults in a timely and effective manner.  Also, the grant will support health system strengthening through the provision of cold chain equipment which will benefit 1.5 million people.  The cold chain equipment and supplies that will be procured includes solar-powered walk-in cold rooms, mobile vaccination vehicles, solar-powered refrigerators and motorcycles for health workers.

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Health-care workers from 76 health facilities will be trained in preventive maintenance and 24 technicians will also be trained to repair equipment in case of breakdown.  A total of 20 national facilitators and 1,000 community health workers or village health workers will be trained to support the administration and monitoring of Covid-19 vaccines. The grant will also help to extend the reach to villages without primary health care centers and thereby improve coverage of immunisation services.

“This project will fully support Unicef’s Covid-19 response efforts in The Gambia and will promote friendship between Japan and The Gambia”, said Mr Daisuke Nakajima, charg’e d’affaires of the Embassy of Japan to The Gambia.  “We share one goal: to protect and provide the necessary information, materials and tools to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in The Gambia,” said Unicef Gambia representative, Mr Gordon Jonathan Lewis.

In 2021, Japan supported The Gambia and Unicef with essential lifesaving nutrition supplies worth US$US200,000 that was part of a total budget of US$US340,200 awarded by Japan to Unicef to respond to nutritional emergencies during the Covid-19 pandemic.  These supplies were used to treat 4,218 children aged 6-59 months with severe acute malnutrition.

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