Official inauguration of the new central vaccine storage facility in Prishtina
The Ministry of Health, USAID and UNICEF have jointly inaugurated the new central vaccine warehouse for Kosovo, complete with a full range of new and modern cold chain equipment to ensure the safe storage of vaccines.
This ceremony completes the process of renewing the entire vaccine cold chain in Kosovo, which began in late 2021. With the generous support of over 1.3 million USD by USAID in Kosovo, UNICEF was able to procure and install new cold chain equipment at health facilities throughout Kosovo, covering the needs of fall levels of vaccine delivery.
The director of the National Institute of Public Health, Dr. Naser Ramadani, thanked USAID and UNICEF for this generous investment in public health in Kosovo.
“Cold rooms, freezer rooms, and ultra-freezing refrigerators with a capacity of 600 litres have been installed in the warehouse, as well as the dry part with a surface area of 575 m2 for the storage of consumables”, said Dr. Ramadani. He added that training will be organized for healthcare staff on administration, storage and management of vaccines and cold chain equipment.
Dr. Dafina Gexha Bunjaku, Acting Minister of Health also thanked the government of the United States and UNICEF for their support to the health sector, particularly for the provision of over one million COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX.
Dr. Gexha Bunjaku said that around 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered since the start of the vaccination process. She stated that the expansion of COVID-19 vaccination has improved the epidemiological situation greatly.
She also noted that Kosovo’s successful expanded immunization program for children, demonstrates the institutional and professional commitment and the strong cooperation with the community to ensure children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“We understand how important this investment in the vaccine warehouse is, contributing directly to the safety of vaccines by strengthening cold chain system to store vaccines at the recommended temperatures from 2-8 degrees Celsius to the ultra-low ones (-86 degrees Celsius)", stated Dr. Gexha-Bunjaku.
The Head of UNICEF in Kosovo, Nona Zicherman, noted that this inauguration marks the finalization of two years of work together with the Ministry of Health, which started with a complete cold chain assessment, and resulted in the provision of 270 vaccine refrigerators and freezers to all 38 municipalities in Kosovo, in addition to the installation of 5 cold rooms and 8 refrigerators with ultra-cold freezers for the central warehouse.
“The renewal of the cold chain system comes at a very important moment, when preparations are being made for the introduction of three new vaccines into the regular vaccination calendar. We hope that this increased capacity to store vaccines will help health professionals in the effective expansion of vaccination coverage, so that every child in Kosovo is protected from vaccine preventable diseases." said Zicherman.
In addition to renewal of the vaccine cold chain system, the generous support of USAID in Kosovo enabled UNICEF to provide a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including promoting behaviour change and increased demand for vaccination through evidence-based communication efforts using, radio and social media, and intensified and community engagement to combat vaccine hesitancy. USAID also supported the expansion of vaccination sites throughout Kosovo to ensure equitable access to vaccines. As part of its outreach efforts, UNICEF has supported the vaccination of over 7,000 people from vulnerable communities with COVID-19 vaccine and trained 782 health professionals on interpersonal communication skills for promotion of vaccination.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.