KENYA—The Ministry of Health has handed over cold chain equipment worth Kshs 1 billion (US$7.017 million) to 47 counties in order to improve the country’s cold chain equipment availability.

This comes after a 2016 statewide assessment revealed gaps in cold chain equipment availability, prompting the Ministry of Health and Gavi to collaborate and provide 1,483 units of cold chain equipment to all counties by 2017.

The program is part of Gavi’s Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Program (CCEOP) grant, which aims to improve vaccine distribution nationally.

This occasion saw the flagging off of an additional 2,000 units valued at Kshs 1 billion, with the Ministry promising to continue assisting with vaccine procurement, storing, and distribution to regional depots.

This initiative is consistent with Kenya’s commitment to primary healthcare, and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is expected to enhance vaccine equity by reaching out to unreached and under-immunized children in all communities.

Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha S. Wafula presided over the ceremony at Afya House Grounds, which was attended by Shaheen Nilofer, UNICEF Kenya Representative, Mr. Harry Kimtai, Principal Secretary for Medical Services, and Dr. Patrick Amoth, Ag. Director General for Health, who emphasized the importance of strong cold chain systems in maintaining vaccine potency.

In her speech, CS Nakhumicha thanked Gavi, UNICEF Kenya, WHO, and local partners for their assistance, and praised the joint efforts of county and national teams in overseeing implementation.

She went on to say that immunization is an important component of the Primary Health Care package and a critical driver of Universal Health Coverage, and that the Ministry was committed to ensuring long-term immunization services so that many Kenyans could benefit from this low-cost, high-impact program.

She also stressed the importance of having a working cold chain system in the vaccination supply chain process since it guarantees that vaccines are kept at the appropriate temperature during transit and storage.

“A high-quality cold chain system ensures that the vaccines that reach our communities and children are effective upon administration, and our children will continue to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases,” she added.

She encouraged parents, caregivers, and adolescent girls to take advantage of the better cold chain system and get vaccinated at local health clinics.

On his part, PS Kimtai highlighted the deployment of specialized vaccine storage equipment throughout all 47 counties, stating that they will boost the efficiency of immunization supply chains.

He finished by noting that this collaborative investment reflects the Ministry’s resolve to achieve universal health coverage and ensure equal access to life-saving vaccines for all Kenyans.

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