New Cold Chain Facility Supported by JICA to Help Lao PDR Expand Vaccine Capacity

As part of the JICA-UNICEF project to strengthen Lao PDR’s cold chain capacity, new walk-in cold rooms have been installed in Vientiane to help the country store more vaccines.

29 June 2023
Vaccine vial
UNICEF Laos/2021/SSanoubane

Vientiane, 29 June 2023 – JICA today officially handed over a new state-of-the-art cold chain facility to the Ministry of Health of Lao PDR, in partnership with UNICEF. This new facility will further boost Lao PDR’s vaccine storage capacity by an additional 16,000 litres - around 5 million doses of a variety of vaccines. Presiding over the event were H.E. Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, H.E. Mr. Kenichi Kobayashi, Ambassador of Japan to Lao PDR, Mr. Toshio Nagase, JICA Chief Representative to Lao PDR, and UNICEF Lao PDR Representative, Dr. Pia Britto.

Two new walk-in cold rooms were recently installed at a central warehouse in Vientiane Capital to help safely store and distribute vaccines. Vaccines must be continuously stored in a limited temperature range – from the time they are manufactured until the moment of vaccination. This is because temperatures that are too high or too low can cause the vaccine to lose its ability to protect against disease.

“I thank JICA and UNICEF for their generous support in installing this important facility. The new walk-in cold rooms represent another key milestone in strengthening Lao PDR’s cold chain system,” said H.E. Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health.

JICA previously supported the Ministry of Health with a supply of 54 refrigerators/cold chain equipment in 2022, which were procured through UNICEF and have already been distributed across various provinces. However, following a thorough cold chain needs assessment by the Ministry of Health, a recommendation was put forward to bolster the central-level vaccine storage capacity using newly introduced walk-in cold rooms.

“Availability of cold rooms permits expansion of routine immunization and will make a significant contribution to achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as well as improvement of health indicators. To this end, Japan will continue to act upon a strong desire for continued close collaboration with the international community and development partners, such as UNICEF,” remarked H.E. Mr. Kenichi Kobayashi, Ambassador of Japan to Lao PDR.

Handover ceremony of cold rooms to the Ministry of Health of Lao PDR by JICA with support from UNICEF.
UNICEF Laos/2023/ASongvilay

In addition to the walk-in cold rooms, the support from JICA included remote temperature monitoring devices for the cold rooms and refurbishment of the cold room site among others, which has a total combined value of nearly USD $177,000.

"UNICEF greatly appreciates JICA's significant contribution towards bolstering immunization in Lao PDR," stated Dr. Pia Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR. "These new facilities underline the enduring partnership between Japan and Lao PDR. At a time when we are seeing vaccination rates decline, this support should act as a shot in the arm for bringing vaccination rates back on track. It is an honor for UNICEF to be a participant in this latest endeavor which will help save young lives across the country."

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