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UNICEF Donates Equipment to Fiji’s Ministry of Health, Women and Social Welfare

UNICEF Donates Equipment to Fiji’s Ministry of Health, Women and Social Welfare

LAUTOKA, 8 December 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pacific Office is donating a 32 foot aluminum boat to the Ministry of Health in Fiji today to support the cold chain system and to strengthen the pandemic preparedness for avian influenza or bird flu in the country.

The donation of the above cold chain supply will allow the Ministry to use for immunization coverage work of nurses and respond to emergencies if a pandemic influenza broke out in Fiji.
UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Isiye Ndombi  said “the logistical cold chain support provided will enable Fiji’s Ministry not only to be prepared for the pandemic influenza – if it were to strike Fiji – but also to replace the old refrigerators, increase vaccine safety and ensure timely distribution of vaccines.”

A cold chain system ensures that vaccines procured in bulk from a manufacturer in Europe are maintained under cold temperatures until it reaches distant local ports and ultimately infants and children.

The hand over of the boat concludes the list of supplies given to the Ministry of Health, Women and Social Welfare. UNICEF has procured 56 refrigerators, 800 temperature monitoring devices, and two weeks ago handed over two vehicles in a continued effort to strengthen the cold chain system in Fiji.

The new equipment donated will also able to replace the outdated refrigerators and domestic refrigerators. This donation has increased the capacity storage of the vaccines of the hospitals and health centers to introduce new cost effective vaccines such as pneumococus and rotavirus vaccines.

Dr Ndombi said “Fiji’s MOH has shown its leadership in immunization programmes by becoming a model for the Pacific countries for routine immunization through the introduction of new vaccines such as the pentavalent vaccine and, recently, the Human Papiloma Virus vaccines for young girls.”

The cold-chain supply procured by UNICEF for the Ministry of Health, Women and Social Welfare is part of the strategic support from the Government of Japan.

He thanked Fiji’s Ministry of Health for consistently showing a steady increase in their vaccine coverage for the past three years. “In 2007, the proportion of fully immunized children was above 80 percent.”  However, he encouraged the Government “to achieve 90 percent coverage and strive to reach those who remain unreachable.”



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