Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday received a donation of 12 ultra-cold chain freezers with a storage capacity of three million doses from the Government of Japan and United Parcel Services.
The donation presented by Japan Ambassador to Kenya Horie Ryoichi, Unicef Chief of Health Yaron Wolman and UPS Group chairman Suresh H Shah. Acting WHO representative Dr Juliet Nabyonga attended the handover as well.
Unicef said the donation leverages Japan’s longstanding experience of medical logistics to ensure equitable access and swift distribution of vaccines across the world.
CS Kagwe thanked the government of Japan for the equipment, which he said will “greatly support” Kenya’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts.
“This equipment will enable appropriate vaccine storage, distribution and continuous temperature monitoring, including storage for vaccines that require ‘ultra-cold’ temperatures,” Kagwe said.
“The equipment will support Kenya’s readiness to receive Pfizer and other Covid-19 vaccines that need to be stored in very low temperatures,” he added.
Japan has donated over Sh210 million through Unicef to improve Kenya’s cold chain capacity for Covid-19 vaccines rollout, as part of a grant of $11 million to 11 countries in the East and Southern African region.
The funds will also be used for the installation of new equipment and to provide training for healthcare workers on how to operate it.
Ambassador Horie Ryoichi said Kenya and Unicef have collaborated effectively, resulting in the speedy and successful procurement of the cold chain equipment.
“Proper storage facilities and a good management system are critical for effective distribution of the vaccines. Even though the government of Kenya may secure a large number of doses, improper handling due to lack of cold chain systems or essential human resources could result in the vaccines losing their potency and becoming ineffective,” he noted.
Wolman said the freezers can store around four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“The equipment will help bolster Kenya’s health system capacity by ensuring that vaccines reach those in greatest need, wherever they live,” he said.