Japan donates Ksh.212M to improve COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Kenya

Japan donates Ksh.212M to improve COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Kenya

The Government of Japan has donated about Ksh. 212million to Kenya to improve the cold chain capacity for COVID-19 vaccines roll out.

A statement from the Japanese embassy said this is part of a grant of about Ksh. 1.2billion to 11 countries in the East and Southern Africa region.

“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,” Ambassador of Japan to Kenya HORIE Ryoichi said.

“Japan is now committed to supporting the improvement of the vaccination programmes all over the world by contributing about 21.2 billion Kenya Shillings 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.

“However, having the vaccination itself, has no meaning if the country does not have sound cold chain capacity,” Ambassador Horie Ryoichi said.

“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.”

The statement 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.

Cold chain capacity is essential to store and transport the COVID-19 vaccines safely across the country, while also ensuring that the COVID-19 response does not disrupt routine immunisation services for other childhood diseases, such as polio and measles.

Further, the embassy said this investment will also strengthen the existing immunization system, so that Kenya will continue to benefit when the pandemic is over.

“UNICEF is very grateful to the Government of Japan for supporting children and families in Kenya at this time of need,” UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman said.

“As we work to leave no-one behind, we must ensure that vaccinesreach those in greatest need, wherever they live. Vaccines also protect the health care workers, teachers and parents who care for children. This 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 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.

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