Immunization cannot wait

UNICEF charters a special flight to deliver lifesaving vaccines for the Ministry of Health of The Gambia amid global travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abdoulie Sey
UNICEF and government staff receive vaccine supplies at airport
07 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented transport and logistical constraints that have disrupted the supply chain of lifesaving supplies across the world. But despite the enormous challenges, UNICEF continues to deliver lifesaving vaccines for children.

“The global travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have triggered huge challenges and changed how we deliver critical supplies for children and their families,” said Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF The Gambia Representative. “But no matter the odds, vaccines and other lifesaving supplies cannot wait. They must reach children at the right time”.

In June 2020, a UNICEF-chartered flight landed at the Banjul International Airport carrying lifesaving vaccines meant for the Ministry of Health of The Gambia. The vaccines, MenA and Penta, will protect children from diseases such as Meningitis A, Tetanus, and Hepatitis B. They’ll also ensure continuity of routine immunization services in The Gambia.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, the continuation of essential health services such as immunization is crucial,” said Malick Sogur, Logistics Officer at the Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ministry of Health. “The continuous supply of vaccines and other logistics will prevent children from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

UNICEF and Ministry of Health staff receive a consignment of vaccines at the airport

No matter the odds, vaccines and other lifesaving supplies cannot wait.

Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF The Gambia Representative

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, UNICEF has been working with partners to ensure the delivery of lifesaving supplies – despite the challenges posed by the limited availability of commercial flights. The charter flight pooled shipments for many countries in West Africa, forcing it to make several stops in the region. The supplies for The Gambia were received at the Banjul International Airport by officials of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF staff.

“The arrival of this shipment will mitigate potential vaccine stock-outs and ensure the continuity of essential immunization services during this period,” said Buya Jallow, UNICEF The Gambia Immunization Officer. “This is a true testament to UNICEF’s commitment to children of The Gambia.”

In The Gambia, UNICEF supports the government in the procurement and management of vaccines and related supplies. To ensure constant supply and proper storage of vaccines, UNICEF also supports the construction of cold storage rooms, and the procurement of solar-powered cold-chain equipment to ensure vaccines reach all children without losing their potency. UNICEF also leads the advocacy for access to immunization services for every child, everywhere. 

“We thank UNICEF for always supporting and helping in protecting Gambian children by expediting the supplies during the emergency," Malick Sogur said.