Jul 4, 2013, 11:44 AM
solarised cold room in Bansang village, Central River Region, was recently
commissioned by Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF country representative.
The cold room was funded UNICEF Gambia country office.
In her launching statement, Ms Nyanti said the 2007 comprehensive review of the EPI revealed that there was inadequate vaccine storage capacity at regional levels, especially in CRR.
“This led to the artificial shortage of vaccines in the region, thereby affecting immunisation coverage,” she said.
The UN diplomat said this concern resulted in active resource mobilisation by UNICEF and it was able to secure “a reasonable amount of resources” to strengthen the cold chain system.
She explained that the prefabricated cold room, with a refrigeration capacity of 10 cubic meters, was therefore procured and installed with a stand-by generator in 2009 to store vaccines for both CRR and URR.
The 2015 routine EPI supervisory visits revealed faults in the stand-by generator in Bansang, thereby interrupting the full functioning of the cold room.
Ms Nyanti said to address this challenge, UNICEF saw the need to explore alternative sources of energy for the full and uninterrupted operation of the cold room. This is what led to the solarisation works of the cold room.
She pointed out that the project received “huge amount of investment”; therefore, the Ministry of Health, especially the regional health office, should take maximum care of the equipment and endeavour to carry out regular preventive maintenance.
The UNICEF rep also called on the health ministry to create a budget line for the maintenance of the cold chain system.
Fatou Lamin Faye, minister for Basic and Secondary Education who deputised for President Jammeh at the launching, said the availability of the vaccine cold room in Bansang will “undoubtedly improve the storage” conditions of vaccines thereby increasing the potency.
Minister Faye said the inauguration of the solarised cold room in Bansang will provide immunity for children and women in the country. It will also serve as support to the Upper and Central River regions thus making storage and distribution more reliable, effective and efficient.
Omar Sey, minister of health, said effective vaccine management called for adequate storage capacity with the required storage temperatures so as to deliver immunisation service with potent vaccines.
“This cold room has the capacity to store all the vaccine requirements of both the Central and Upper River regions and will save electricity, travel costs and time to collect vaccine from the national level,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Sey also presided over the inauguration ceremony of the Janjanbureh newly built medical centre and the commissioning of the upgraded Basse major health centre to a referral hospital.