UNICEF Supports the Ministry of Health with New Cold Chain Equipment
SKOPJE 27 December 2008: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative Mr. Sheldon Yett and Minister of Health, Mr. Bujar Osmani today discussed the importance of ensuring full immunization coverage for all children during a visit to the immunization health facility in Suto Orizari – a facility that services a predominantly Roma community. During the visit UNICEF handed over a donation of equipment to ensure the safe storage of vaccines. The donation is part of a larger package of interventions supported by UNICEF in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO) which will cover more than half of the clinics in the country where children receive routine immunizations.
In order to ensure effective vaccine coverage, reliable equipment to store vaccines as well as measures to ensure sustainable financing and management must be in place. A joint UNICEF and WHO assessment revealed that there is a strong vaccine storage and logistics system operating at national level, with centralized supply of vaccines of assured quality, however at the level of the local health facility two thirds of the health clinics did not have reliable equipment to ensure effective storage of the vaccines used on a daily basis. To ensure all vaccines storage facilities through out the county meet international standards, the Ministry of Health committed to procure in 2009 the additional vaccine storage equipment required for the remaining immunization health facilities from core budgetary resources.
In the course of the next year, UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Health to upgrade the knowledge of immunization health workers on issues related to vaccine storage and handling. This builds on the support completed this year which focused on introducing a revised continuous medical education programme; efforts to improve long-term evidence based planning and financing of the immunization programme; and, developing an integrated information system that will be available in all immunization health facilities to help health workers identify and reach members of the community whose children are not being vaccinated on a timely basis.
The support is part of a UNICEF project to improve maternal and child health funded by the Government of Norway.
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