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On Friday 27th March, with the support of ELMA Vaccines and Immunizations Foundation, CIDRZ was privileged to handover Kw 14 million worth of Expanded Programme on Immunisation vaccine refrigerators, delivery trucks and allied cold-chain equipment to the Government of the Republic of Zambia in support of the nation’s child immunisation programme. The celebratory event at the Child Health Unit in Lusaka was a culmination of years of work, representing the partnership of the Government with multiple stakeholders, including the WHO, UNICEF, JICA, and the CIDRZ Programme for the Awareness and Elimination of Diarrhoea (PAED) led by Dr Roma Chilengi to strengthen Zambia’s vaccine cold chain system. By working hand-in-hand with government, CIDRZ PAED leadership and other stakeholders were able to perform a National Effective Vaccine Management Assessment and develop a detailed cold chain expansion plan which increased the capacity of the national level vaccine cold storage facility from 144 to 212,000 litres. ELMA Vaccines and Immunizations Foundation generously provided resources for the purchase and transport of the equipment, and training support.
Because vaccines require a strict temperature-regulated “cold-chain” storage and conveyance system to keep them effective, the delivery of 349 vaccine refrigerators, solar panels and batteries, vaccine cold boxes and carriers, and two new 15-ton flatbed trucks brings Zambia closer to the dream that every child regardless of where they live will have access to life-saving vaccines.
In Zambia, combating childhood morbidity and mortality by targeting vaccine preventable diseases is imperative as infants and children under 5 death rates are still unacceptably high. The 2013-14 Zambia Demographic Health survey reported 45 infants of every one thousand live births dying; and 75 children under 5 dying per thousand live births. In efforts to improve child health and reach Millennium Development Goal targets Zambia recently added three important new infant vaccines to the Zambian childhood immunisation system – pneumococcal, second dose measles, and rotavirus.
When delivering the equipment to the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health Mr Simmy Chapula, CIDRZ CEO Dr Charles Holmes remarked, “Today’s celebration is about the children— this vaccine cold chain equipment will directly provide a positive and healthy impact on the lives of Zambia’s children by ensuring that safe, life-saving vaccines are available for all children and especially those of hard-to-reach families in rural areas. I pledge that CIDRZ will continue to work diligently to ensure that we make a true and dedicated contribution to the improvement of the Zambian health system for all Zambians.”