For the first time, Pacific countries will have a regional cold storage facility for all vaccines.
The facility, which is based at Yee’s Cold Storage in Nadi, Fiji, accommodates vaccines for 12 Pacific Island Countries – Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Vaccines for Fiji are stored at Fiji Pharmaceutical Services in Suva.
“Vaccines are less effective or spoilt if they are not maintained at the right temperature. The cold chain is the process used to maintain ideal conditions during the transport, storage, and handling of vaccines, starting at the manufacturer and ending with the administration of the vaccine to the client,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen.
Previously vaccines were kept with imported frozen produce. But thanks to the New Zealand Government, a cold chain facility was donated to keep vaccines at their most ideal temperature before they are shipped to Pacific countries for right on-time use.
UNICEF procures vaccines for 13 Pacific Island nations through the Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII) funded by donations from the New Zealand, Japanese and USA governments, which began in 1995. Under VII, UNICEF procures international quality, WHO-certified vaccines in bulk at a discounted rate and ships for quicker delivery of vaccines. UNICEF is then reimbursed for procurement costs by Pacific governments.
In thanking the New Zealand Government, Dr Allen said “Without a proper storage facility, there is no guarantee vaccines are 100% potent when they reach their final destination. I’m sure all Pacific Island Countries, health workers, parents and caregivers, are just as appreciative as UNICEF for this storage facility.”
She added that “A child who is not immunised is more likely to be sick, disabled, undernourished or could possibly die. Vaccines protect individuals and populations against diseases such as measles, meningitis, polio, tuberculosis, pneumonia and tetanus.”
Source: UNICEF, Pacific