Health services across the country have new cold chain systems for vaccines
ASUNCIÓN, November 30, 2022. Regarding the cooperation between the Government of Japan and The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the project entitled "Strengthening of cold network systems for the safe handling of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2", implemented in support of the Expanded Program of Immunization (PAI in Spanish) of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPBS by its Spanish initials), was closed.
The event took place on November 29 and was attended by the Minister of Health, Julio Borba; the Vice-Minister of Rectory and Surveillance, Lida Sosa; the Director of PAI, Héctor Castro; the Japanese Ambassador to Paraguay, Nakatani Yoshie; the UNICEF representative, Rafael Obregón; and Ralph Midy, advisor to UNICEF's regional headquarters for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The PAI director emphasized that the closing of the project "is crowning what represents one of the most important steps in public health in terms of vaccination".
For the UNICEF representative in Paraguay, the project was an important step forward, but many challenges remain, especially with regard to declines in vaccination coverage. He emphasized the commitment to continue accompanying the efforts of the Ministry of Health to maintain the quality of the cold chain, the optimal management of the immunization program and also to improve primary health care, including significant increases in vaccination coverage.
Ambassador Yoshie expressed her satisfaction at having been part of the project. "It has been one of the most important challenges to meet the needs of combating COVID-19 in Paraguay as quickly as possible. I am glad that they have come to a happy realization of the objectives achieved in just 8 to 10 months," she said. She also thanked the tireless work of the UNICEF team, the Ministry of Health, the PAI, her embassy team and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To conclude, the Minister of Health recalled that the world scenario made it necessary to procure vaccines on a large scale in order to meet the existing demand. This required the necessary storage to maintain the cold chain, which guaranteed the effective handling of the products, avoiding the loss of doses due to lack of refrigeration. "Today we put the finishing touch to the project that strengthened the cold network and quality in the handling of vaccines, promoted by UNICEF with the support of the Government of Japan," he said.
A total of 973 health services throughout the country have new cold chain equipment to improve vaccine management, benefiting 80% of the Paraguayan population. The cutting-edge technology used meets the requirements to ensure the safe storage of vaccines, not only for COVID-19 but for more than 30 types of disease-preventing doses.
The project, which directly benefits 80% of the Paraguayan population, was initiated in 2021 in support of the PAI as part of the Paraguayan Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this regard, the supply of high-quality cold chain equipment of the latest technological generation was set out. For the first time, the MSPBS gained access to ultra-low temperature freezers, as well as solar-powered refrigerators and freezers. On this last point, 13 health services in Chaco have refrigerators with solar panels, guaranteeing the quality of vaccine conservation by eliminating the problem of unstable electricity supply. In addition, the regional warehouses were strengthened in their electrical network through the installation of generators and extension of the network for the proper operation of the cold chain equipment acquired.
The project also included the training of 212 PAI technical officers on the operation and maintenance of the new cold chain equipment, operation of ultra-low temperature freezers and refrigerators, solar-powered refrigerators, and the use of remote temperature monitoring systems. Moreover, a total of 1129 health facility staff were trained in the use and monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccine kits.
Finally, the project also contributed to two studies to improve vaccine management at the country level, as well as the systematization of experience in strengthening the cold chain, data collection capacity, data analysis and the formulation of policies and technical regulations.
UNICEF promueve los derechos y el bienestar de todos los niños y niñas en todo lo que hacemos. Junto a nuestros aliados, trabajamos en 190 países y territorios para transformar este compromiso en acciones prácticas, centrando especialmente nuestros esfuerzos en llegar a los niños más vulnerables y excluidos, para el beneficio de todos los niños, en todas partes.
Para más información sobre UNICEF y su trabajo para la niñez, visite www.unicef.org/paraguay.