The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services have launched a National Vaccine Cold Chain Policy this week.
A joint media statement from UNICEF and the Ministry of Health said this critical document lays out important policy guidelines and provides guidance to ensure vaccines are delivered in a safe, healthy and efficient way.
This includes storage safety measures, procedures for transferring vaccines to health clinics and ensure that children are safely vaccinated – this is referred to as the cold chain process.
In his remarks during the ceremony, UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett said the availability of safe vaccines is the backbone of any Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).
He says a well-maintained and effective cold chain system will guarantee that all children receiving vaccines are protected from deadly diseases.
Mr Yett said like with food and other perishable materials, if vaccines are not stored properly or kept at certain temperatures, they will not work properly and will fail to prevent illness or disease.
Meanwhile, he says despite having the vaccine cold chain policy in draft form in the past few years, UNICEF and partners such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) were pleased to have supported the Ministry to finalise the policy document.
The draft policy was last revised in 2006, however, new vaccines have since been introduced.
In response, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Tenneth Dalipanda thanked UNICEF and WHO for their ongoing technical and financial support with immunisation, saying that increasing vaccine coverage across the country and improving the Cold Chain are amongst the Ministry’s top priorities in its National Strategic Plan for the coming years.
He says the key to achieving this and other priorities in the National Health Strategy Plan over the next 5 years is the partnership with its stakeholders.