Government of Japan supports Niger with US$2.5 million to strengthen cold chain in the continued fight against COVID-19
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NIAMEY, 25 April 2021 – The Government of Japan has donated US$2.5 million (FCFA 1.49 billion) to UNICEF to support the national health authorities in their efforts fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will increase the ability of frontline health workers to deliver vaccinations across the country by expanding the cold chain and addressing vaccine hesitancy with specific groups, including youths and teachers, nomadic communities and migrants.
“In order to overcome COVID-19, it is important to ensure and promote equitable access to vaccines throughout the world," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan pronounced. "Japan will continue to make its contribution in order to supply vaccines and strengthen the delivery and vaccination capacities including through 'Last One Mile support' and assistance via the COVAX Facility.”
To increase the existing capacity of the ultra-cold chain in Niger both in the capital and in the regions, the contribution from Japan will allow installing three additional ultra-cold storage rooms at the national Directorate of Immunization and the training of logisticians on use and maintenance of the new equipment. A total of 30 double-insulated transport boxes will help dispatch the Pfizer vaccine to remote clinics. The Pfizer vaccine is the last of five different COVID-19 vaccines to be received in Niger and it requires to be stored at a controlled temperature of minus 70oCelsius, colder than the other vaccines. The delivery of the Pfizer vaccine is important as it allowed the diversification of the immunization offer in the country and thus can improve demand and acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition, 170 health facilities in remote areas will receive solar refrigerators for the storage of other COVID-19 and general vaccines. This will improve access to routine vaccinations to more than half a million people, including nearly 55'000 children under one year of age and nearly 70'000 pregnant women.
"The cold chain is a vital for the health authorities to make vaccines available in clinics in rural areas which will help members of remote communities to get vaccinated," said Stefano Savi, UNICEF Representative in Niger. "To counteract and correct misinformation around COVID-19 vaccinations, continued rumor tracking and sharing of factual information through official channels remains equally important."
Thanks to this contribution from Japan, more than 200 partners will be trained to address vaccine hesitancy and more than 5.6 million people will be reached through initiatives online and offline with information on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination. This latest contribution from the Japanese people to Niger is part of a contribution of US$30 million offered to ten African countries as well as seven Latin America and the Caribbean countries.
To date, Niger has received more than six million doses of five different vaccines via the COVAX mechanism and expanding the cold chain has been a key effort. The first case of COVID-19 in Niger was registered on 19 March 2020. Two years later, nearly 9'000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the country and more than 300 had died. The fight against COVID-19 remains a priority for the Government and vaccinations are readily available across the country.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) –working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.
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.