The Government of Japan and UNICEF Unite Against COVID-19 Through Strengthening of the Cold Chain Capacity in The Gambia.
BANJUL, 23 March 2022, – The Government of Japan, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has provided $US2.5 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support The Gambian Government’s efforts against COVID-19. This funding will be used to support Infection and Prevention Control measures to ensure the continuation of critical lifesaving services, procure cold chain equipment and related supplies, upgrade and strengthen regional and sub-regional cold stores and provide capacity-building assistance to promote COVID-19 vaccination in The Gambia.
The funds will complement national efforts to reach its target vaccination rate of 70 per cent among eligible adults in a timely and effective manner. Also, the grant will support health system strengthening through the provision of cold chain equipment which will benefit 1.5 million people. The cold chain equipment and supplies that will be procured include solar-powered walk-in cold rooms, mobile vaccination vehicles, solar-powered refrigerators and motorcycles for health workers.
Health-care workers from 76 health facilities will be trained in preventive maintenance and 24 technicians will also be trained to repair equipment in case of breakdown. A total of 20 national facilitators and 1000 community health workers/village health workers will be trained to support the administration and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. The grant will also help to extend the reach to villages without primary health care centres and thereby improve coverage of immunization services.
In 2021, the Government of Japan supported the Gambian Government and UNICEF with essential lifesaving nutrition supplies worth $US200,000 that was part of a total budget of $US340,200 awarded by the Government of Japan to UNICEF to respond to nutritional emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. These supplies were used to treat 4,218 children aged 6-59 months with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
The Gambia is one of the 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and African regions benefiting from the Government of Japan Emergency Grant Aid of $US30 million towards Cold Chain system strengthening to reduce the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.