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Tripoli, 20 May 2020 – UNICEF delivers solar-powered cold chain equipment aimed at a strengthened immunization programme of children amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
In continuation with efforts to support the Ministry of Health with solarization of the cold chain in the south of Libya, UNICEF has shipped ten solar powered cold chain refrigerators to Libya to ensure quality of vaccine storage in areas affected by power cuts. The equipment has arrived at the Misurata seaport and will be distributed to the health facilities in Sabha, Ubari, Murzuk, Alkufra, and Showrif. Around 20,000 girls and boys under the age of two years will benefit from the enhanced vaccination programme in these remote towns in the southern parts of the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has overstretched health services and health workers have been diverted to assist with the containment of the pandemic as there is still no vaccine available. The Governments requirement for physical distancing and curfew has led parents to make the difficult decision of deferring routine immunization. Many health facilities around the country had temporarily stopped providing vaccination services to children, though they are now scheduled to resume in May 2020.
To add on to the pressures of the pandemic, the ongoing conflict, flight cancellations, limited transport and trade restrictions by countries, regular power cuts have severely constrained access to essential medical goods and equipment, which are now in short supply. Cold chains required for the vaccination programme are under major strain. Regardless of all these setbacks, it is vital that national routine vaccinations continue without interruption. Immunization is one of the most effective public health interventions and when routine vaccinations are missed, the risk of disease outbreaks increases, which make the entire population more vulnerable during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘UNICEF recommends that the Ministry of Health begins rigorous planning to intensify immunization activities now and once the COVID -19 pandemic is under control. These activities must focus on children who will miss vaccine doses during this period of interruption”, said Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, UNICEF Special Representative. “UNICEF stands ready to support the Ministry of Health to continue strengthening the Extended Programme of Immunization in Libya” he added.
The cold chain refrigerators were procured through generous contributions received from the US State Department, the Government of France, and UNICEF Italy National Committee.
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Source: UN Children’s Fund