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New vaccine store boost immunization in Afghanistan

KABUL, 6 February 2005 - A new vaccine storage facility will open in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad on Tuesday 8 February, improving immunization services for at least 500,000 children in surrounding provinces.

The new storage centre, which has been established by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health with the support of UNICEF, will be able to hold 700,000 vials of various vaccines at any given time. This capacity is sufficient to meet both immediate and longer term vaccine needs for  4 four provinces - Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar and Nuristan. Typical vaccines that can be stored safely at the new centre include those against DPT (diphtheria, pertussis/whooping cough and tetanus), tuberculosis, measles, and polio. In addition the centre will manage the storage of tetanus toxoid vaccine, used in the Ministry’s campaigns to vaccinate 600,000 women of child-bearing age against maternal and neo-natal tetanus in the eastern provinces.

Safe storage of vaccine is essential in the battle against preventable childhood diseases. Many vaccines lose their potency if their temperature is not kept low enough, and as a result supplies of vaccines have previously had to be transported into the eastern provinces for every campaign, or to respond to emergency disease outbreaks, from Kabul. This is both costly and inefficient. The new storage centre, which has been supported through funding from Japan and the United States of America, will greatly enhance the ability of local health departments to manage vaccination activities. Immunization efforts are implemented by 246 trained vaccinators through 123 fixed centres, covering 43 districts of the region, every year.

The new centre, which consists of two walk-in and compartmental storage areas capable of keeping vaccines at temperatures as low as -35C as well as packing and distribution facilities, will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday 8 February at 10 a.m. by The Minister of Public Health, Dr. Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimi, accompanied by the Governor of Nangarhar His Excellency Haji Sahib Din Mohammad, the Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan His Excellency Norihiro Okuda, Director of USAID for Afghanistan Mr.Patrick Fine and UNICEF’s Representative to Afghanistan Mr. Bernt Aasen. Japan has contributed a total of US$ 34,250 towards the establishment of the Jalalabad centre, along with a contribution of US$ 96,175 from the United States.

The opening of the Jalalabad centre follows the establishment of a similar facility in Kandahar, serving the southern region, which was opened in January. The country’s first vaccine storage facility was opened in Kabul in March 2004.

For more information, please contact:

Edward Carwardine, Communication Officer, UNICEF : +93 (0)796 07402

Mohammad Rafi, Assistant Communication Officer, UNICEF : +93 (0)796 07403




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