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Strengthening the cold chain system to preserve vaccines in Myanmar

UNICEF hands over new cold chain storage facility to Myanmar Ministry of Health

YANGON, 12 August 2008 - UNICEF and WHO handed over a new cold chain facility to the Myanmar Ministry of Health today, as part of their efforts to assist the Government with its immunization campaigns. The facility can hold a full national 8-month-supply for 6 different vaccines and will be a crucial center for distributing vaccines for routine and emergency immunizations nationwide to divisions, states and communities. The new facility offers much needed storage capacity as the number of health campaigns is increasing especially in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.  It comes as an addition to the already existing central EPI storage rooms at Yangon Children’s Hospital.

“Immunization is vital in the survival of Myanmar’s children, especially in areas affected by disaster where diseases easily spread”, said Dr. Osamu Kunii, Health and Nutrition Chief at UNICEF Myanmar. “And the key to any successful immunization program is to make sure that the cold chain does not get broken at any point so that the life-saving vaccines do not get ruined.”

At the facility, new vaccines coming into Myanmar can be stored in large quantities to address the rising demand for vaccinations needed to conduct mass immunization campaigns, such as those for polio and measles. The facility consists of 3 cooler rooms and 4 freezer rooms. BCG, OPV, Measles, DPT, TT and Hep B vaccines will be stored here. The facility cost USD 440,000 to build – a joint effort by UNICEF and WHO.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, UNICEF, along with WHO has been supporting the government in conducting measles vaccination campaigns in temporary settlements as well as re-establishing routine immunization services, including the rehabilitation of a cold chain at all levels, in the affected areas. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been assisting in mobilizing the population around these efforts.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact
Anna Stechert, UNICEF Myanmar, +951 375527-32 ext 1443 astechert@unicef.org
Sandar Linn, UNICEF Myanmar, +951 375527-32 ext. 1439 slinn@unicef.org




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