The fight against Covid -19 pandemic has received a major boost after the government received Sh 212 million from Japanese government to improve the cold chain capacity for Covid-19 vaccines roll out.
This grant makes Kenya one of the 11 countries in the East and Southern Africa region that received about Sh1.2billion in total from the Japanese Embassy.
Ambassador of Japan to Kenya, Horie Ryoichi, said the Government of Japan’s assistance will be used to strengthen Kenya’s health system capacity as it rolls out the largest vaccination programme in its history.
“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya, Japan has been contributing to the fight against the virus by providing medical equipment and PCR test kits,” Ryoichi said in a statement sent to newsrooms.
He noted that Japan is committed to supporting the improvement of the vaccination programmes all over the world hence Sh 21.2 billion Kenya to the Covax facility, an international mechanism led by Gavi, CEPI, WHO and UNICEF.
According to the envoy, the funding will support the Kenyan Government in its Covid-19 vaccination efforts, especially through the procurement of equipment for vaccine storage, distribution and continuous temperature monitoring.
This includes storage for vaccines that require ‘ultra-cold’ temperatures. The funds will also be used to support the installation of new equipment and provide training to the healthcare workers on how to operate the equipment.
“That’s why we decided to provide this emergency grant to ensure equitable access and swift distribution of vaccines in Kenya. Japan has decided to co-host the Vaccine Summit on 2nd June and I am sure that we will continue to contribute towards the global fight against Covid-19 including the enhancement of vaccine access,” he added.
Cold chain capacity is essential to store and transport the Covid-19 vaccines safely across the Country, while also ensuring that the disease response does not disrupt routine immunisation services for other childhood diseases, such as polio and measles.
Further, the Embassy said the investment will also strengthen the existing immunisation system, so that Kenya will continue to benefit when the pandemic is over.
UNICEF Representative to Kenya, Maniza Zaman, said that UNICEF is grateful to the Government of Japan for supporting children and families in Kenya, particularly at this time of need.
She said that the new funding provided by Japan will provide a vital boost to the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in Kenya, while also protecting routine immunisation for children and strengthening the health system.
“As we work to leave no-one behind, we must ensure that vaccines reach those in greatest need, wherever they live. Vaccines also protect the health care workers, teachers and parents who care for children,” Zaman said.
She stated that as the largest vaccine buyer in the world, UNICEF has been selected as the lead procurement and supply agency for COVAX.
In Kenya, UNICEF is also supporting the Ministry of Health on its vaccine communication campaign, ‘Pata Chanjo ya Tumaini’, and on strengthening the cold chain system, which benefits millions of children in Kenya every year.
By Alice Gworo