The Government of Japan has provided nearly $3 million through UNICEF to support the cold chain system in Sri Lanka and strengthen delivery of immunization services, including in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sri Lanka is currently rolling out vaccinations against the pandemic for prioritized groups, including the elderly population above 60 years of age in high-risk areas impacted by COVID-19.
“As a long-standing friend of Sri Lanka, it is our great honour to provide emergency grant assistance through UNICEF in our joint combat against COVID-19. We believe that the procurement of cold chain equipment and relevant technical assistance will ensure equitable access and swift rollout of vaccination across the country,” the Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama said.
This new, timely contribution from Japan will be used for the procurement of cold chain equipment, including walk-in cold rooms, ice lined refrigerators and vaccine carriers. In addition, the grant will support the operation and maintenance of the cold chain equipment, effective vaccine management as well as expansion of temperature monitoring system to all districts.
“Contributions like this from the Government of Japan are crucial in our joint efforts with the Ministry of Health to support the delivery of COVID-19 vaccination services and further strengthen Sri Lanka’s health system”, said Emma Brigham, UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative a.i.
Through the COVAX Facility, in March, UNICEF brought in the first batch of 264,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca ‘Covishield’ vaccines which are being rolled out in line with the National Vaccine Deployment Plan of the Ministry of Health.
This support from the Government of Japan comes as a boost to Sri Lanka’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the overall immunization system, including to receive, store and roll-out the COVID-19 vaccination programme. (Colombo Gazette)