KATHMANDU, Jan 31: The Government of Japan has provided the grant assistance to strengthen vaccine cold chain system in Nepal through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Under its grant, Japan has provided high-quality facilities such as 9 walk-in-coolers, 38 solar-driven vaccine refrigerators, 1,109 long-range vaccine carriers and 53 cold boxes to ensure effective COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Nepal.
According to a press statement jointly issued by the UNICEF and the Embassy of Japan in Kathmandu, these facilities have been delivered sequentially throughout Nepal since last year and the delivery of all items of equipment was completed on January 30 this year. The grant also supports human resource development for operation and maintenance of cold chain equipment as well as monitoring for effective management of routine and COVID-19 vaccines by UNICEF.
“Nepal is currently experiencing the third wave of COVID-19 with the Omicron variant, which makes the vaccine drive one of the top priorities for the Government of Nepal,” the statement quoted Japanese Ambassador to Nepal Kikuta Yutaka as saying. “Appropriate vaccine storage is crucial in the vaccine campaign and this grant aims to drastically increase the capacity for storage and distribution of vaccines across the country.”
“The provided walk-in-coolers are transportable and can be installed relatively quickly and inexpensively, the solar-driven refrigerators help tackle storage issues faced by regions with unstable electricity, and the carriers and boxes enable vaccine distribution to communities unreachable by a vehicle,” the ambassador added. “I hope this grant can expedite the process in reaching every person waiting for the vaccine, and I sincerely hope the people of Nepal to regain normal, safe days, overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic as soon as possible.”
Japan continues to provide comprehensive support to Nepal. Japan so far donated vaccines, ambulances, various medical and cold chain equipment to strengthen the measures against COVID-19. In addition, it was recently decided to extend a loan assistance of up to ten billion Japanese yen (approximately 10.4 NPR) to the Government of Nepal for economic recovery, growth and social resilience, said the statement.
“We are grateful to the Government of Japan for its continued support to Nepal in critical efforts to safely and effectively deliver and store vaccines across the country, particularly at a time when Nepal is battling high numbers of COVID-19 infections during the current wave,” the statement quoted UNICEF Representative in Nepal Elke Wisch as saying. “The cold chain equipment provided through Japan’s generous support will not only support the Government of Nepal’s current COVID-19 vaccination drive, but also reinforce critical routine immunization services to protect children against main childhood diseases. A strengthened vaccination system will further contribute to ensuring that the health system is robust enough in case of future crises, so that children, families, and communities across Nepal can be protected.”