Japanese Ambassador visits Kitengela Vaccine Depot, after 200,200 COVID-19 vaccine doses donated to Kenya
Nairobi, 21 April 2022 – Today, Japanese Ambassador to Kenya OKANIWA Ken visited Kitengela National Vaccine Depot, for a symbolic handing over of 200,200 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines, which were donated by the Government of Japan via the COVAX facility, were stored in the warehouse following their arrival in Kenya on 6 April and have now been distributed across the country. The visit was attended by Dr Willis Akhwale, the Ministry of Health Chairman of COVID Vaccine Deployment Taskforce, Japanese Ambassador OKANIWA Ken and UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman.
“We are very grateful to the Government of Japan for their recent donation of COVID-19 vaccines,” Ministry of Health’s Dr Willis Akhwale said. “This will support the ongoing rollout of Kenya’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. I would like to emphasise that all vaccines approved by WHO and Government of Kenya, including AstraZeneca are safe and effective and I would encourage any Kenyan who has not yet been fully vaccinated, including those eligible for booster shots, to visit their closest health centre immediately.”
“This donation builds on Japan’s ongoing partnership with the Government of Kenya, including in response to COVID-19,” said Japanese Ambassador OKANIWA. “For many years, Japan has supported Kenya’s health sector including the attainment of universal health coverage. These vaccines will assist Kenya in its fight against the pandemic. The Government of Japan has here at Kitengela vaccine depot already provided support to the cold chain in Kenya, by providing ultra-low temperature freezers and other immunization cold chain devices that allow COVID-19 vaccines to be safely stored and transported across the country.”
The roll out of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health (MoH), with support from UNICEF, WHO and other partners. As well as procuring and transporting COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF is supporting MoH in deploying and installing cold chain equipment, planning, monitoring, budgeting and capacity building, and distribution of vaccines. UNICEF and WHO are also supporting MoH with risk communication and community engagement.
“The recent donation from the Government of Japan is a welcome boost to Kenya’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign,” UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said. “COVID-19 remains a serious health risk in Kenya to vulnerable and high-risk people and I would urge anyone who is due for their first, second or booster shot to get this immediately. Once again, UNICEF is delighted to offer our full support in getting these vital vaccines to Kenya and also in the overall vaccination drive in the country”.
The World Health Organisation has so far approved six COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, including AstraZeneca. The organisation has emphasised the safety of approved vaccines and urged Kenyans to maintain public health measures while the national vaccination campaign is rolled out.
This is not the first time that Japan has supported Kenya’s fight against COVID-19. In September 2021, the country donated 12 ultra-low temperature freezers and accessories for storage of COVID-19 vaccines that require very low temperatures of up to -80 °C. The equipment was procured by UNICEF with funding from the Government of Japan, through its global vaccine initiative ‘Last One Mile Support’. This leveraged Japan’s longstanding experience of medical logistics to ensure equitable access and swift distribution of vaccines across the world.
“Proper cold chain storage facilities are critical for effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines,” Japanese Ambassador OKANIWA said. “The equipment donated by Japan enables appropriate vaccine storage, distribution and continuous temperature monitoring. This enables Kenya to receive Pfizer and other COVID-19 vaccines that need to be stored at ‘ultra-cold’ temperatures,”
In 2013, the Kitengela National Vaccine Depot, together with three other regional vaccine depots, was constructed with a grant of approximately Ksh 826 million, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
You can download hi-res photos of the vaccine arrival and Kitengela depot visit here: https://bit.ly/3uTAEcN
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus . Find out more about UNICEF’s work on the COVID-19 vaccines here, or about UNICEF’s work on immunization here.