Vaccine refrigeration equipment, flagged off.

In Summary
  • Anticipated to benefit districts and health facilities  experiencing challenges in storing key drugs.
  • Over 1,300 solar-powered refrigerators, vaccine carriers, and walk-in refrigerators.
  • vaccine refrigeration equipment valued at USD 8.3M
Health Minister,Ruth Aceng flagging off equipment
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

The Ministry of Health has flagged off vaccine refrigeration equipment worth USD 8.3M to various health facilities across the country.

The cold chain equipment procured with funding from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and procured by UNICEF for Uganda will be distributed to districts in order to reduce the number of under immunized people or unimmunized persons.

Inspecting ultra modern solar panels to power refrigerators
Image: courtesy photo

Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said districts and health facilities that have been experiencing challenges in storing key drugs, especially vaccines that require very low temperatures will be helped by the initiative.

“This demonstrates to you our commitment in ensuring that we reduce childhood mortality, morbidity and disability due to vaccine preventable diseases” Aceng said adding that now adults are included in vaccination.

Hon. Aceng observes a vaccine carrier
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

Her remarks come on the backdrop of a Cold Chain assessment countrywide in 2016, which informed the decision to phase out certain vaccine refrigerators and introduce new ones and consider majorly the solar because of power problems.

 “Today we are at 89 percent of our efforts so we barely have only 19 percent to go to ensure full coverage of cold chain equipment up to the sub county level covering both public, private not for profit and private facilities because we all participate in immunization.” Aceng added.

Some of the equipment on display at Kololo cremonial grounds
Image: courtesy photo

Immunization contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDG)3 that ensures healthy lives and promotes wellbeing of all ages and in line with this goal, introduction of new vaccines into the routine immunization schedule.

 In line with that, the health minister disclosed that they are about to introduce the Yellow Fever vaccine into the routine schedule bringing the number of immunizable diseases under the UNEPI program from thirteen to fourteen; including COVID-19.

Hon Aceng, inspects a solar powered freezer
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

The health minister noted that at the onset of the Covid-19 vaccination, Uganda did not struggle because of having an adequate cold chain system.

 “The National Medical Stores NMS has 20 refrigerated trucks, between minus 2 to minus 8 degrees , minus 15 to minus 25 Celsius  for vaccines that need very low temperatures up to minus -80 degrees.” She stated.

Packed cold rooms ready for transportation
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

Dr. Alfred Driwale, the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI) said the new stock comes in handy when they are grappling with an increasing number of unvaccinated children.  For just polio, the ministry said a total of two million children had missed vaccination by August last year. 

L-R,Alfred Driwale,Daniel Kyabayinze,Tetegn Woldemariam,Munir Safieldin and others
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

The consignment was comprised of over 1,300 solar-powered refrigerators, vaccine carriers, and walk-in refrigerators.

According to National Medical Store-NMS figures, the country’s cold chain capacity for drugs that require temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees is at 300 million doses, that of between -15 and -25 degrees is at 35 million doses whereas the coldest of -50 to -80 degrees that they have been using to store the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine .

Minister,Aceng Ruth keenly observes another solar powered refrigerator
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

With the new equipment there will be more space, for the 2 to 8 degrees there will be an additional 115 million doses to the 300 making it  415million doses, between -15 and -25 degrees is at 5 million doses making it 40 million doses.