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Japan supports UNICEF in South Sudan vaccine rollout

Merio Jimmy, Juba

The Government of Japan has donated over $1 million to UNICEF South Sudan to improve cold chain management and support the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination campaig. The contribution was made as part of an Emergency Grant of approximately $39 million, spread equally between Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

In South Sudan, the contribution aims to provide 'Last One Mile Support', to ensure vaccination is available to everyone across the country. It will help South Sudan's vaccine drive by improving storage and cold chain management through enhanced infrastructure, transportation and training for healthcare staff.

'We thank the Government of Japan for this important financial contribution. Cold chain capabilities are essential for storing and transporting vaccines which need to be kept at cool temperatures to remain effective, including the COVID-19 vaccines', said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

Vaccines in a locked freezer box being unloaded for use.

Japanese funding will be used to build and install a new freezer room at the national vaccine store in Juba. Outside of the capital, the money will be used construct new cold rooms, purchase up to 500 fridges and replace cold chain generators.

Last year, Japan provided approximately $500,000 to UNICEF South Sudan in support of the organisation's hygiene programs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tsutumi Naohiro, the Japanese Ambassador in Juba, expressed hope that Japan's cooperation with UNICEF will help improve South Sudan's public health capabilities.

'I hope that this emergency grant, together with the previous year’s assistance, contributes to delivering necessary medical services including vaccines to every person in the country with a view to containing COVID-19 as quickly as possible, which accordingly saves more lives', Naohiro remarked.

Scientists at one of the cold rooms in the national vaccines store, Juba.

The vaccine program is well underway across South Sudan following the successful arrival of doses through the COVAX program earlier in April. Assessment of South Sudan's cold chain infrastructure has been fundamental in the roll out process.

'The funds provided by the Government of Japan are essential to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. The investment in the cold chain system will also serve the immunization programme to reach all women and children in South Sudan with lifesaving vaccines', noted Ms Lasseko.

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