Freetown: In its efforts to bolster the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine, the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership ,cvdp) has handed over vehicles, including motorbikes and computers, worth over $2.8 million to support the government of Sierra Leone, CoVDP is a joint venture of the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (Gavi), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicefand the world health organization (WHO).
The items were officially handed over to Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation in Freetown, and they included two pickup vehicles, 250 motorbikes, six computers and accessories, and 300 tablets with power banks. “In addition, 15 peripheral health units (PHUs) and four district vaccine stores will be connected to solar powered systems,” a press statement from the CoVDP informed.
Terming the CoVDP’s move as a step in the right direction, Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation, said, “It is heart-warming to receive these items from the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP). As Sierra Leone has achieved over 70 percent of fully vaccinated individuals for COVID-19 vaccination, this donation will boost the country’s determination in making more gains in the integrated vaccination approach.”
These supplies are part of the technical and operational support that the country is receiving to help scale up COVID-19 vaccination and strengthen routine immunization services across Sierra Leone.
“Gavi is proud to work with our partners in continued support of Sierra Leone’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout,” said Dr. Richard MihigoDirector, COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery, Coordination, and Integration at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,
“These additional resources are vital investments that will further strengthen the health system as a whole, supporting integration of COVID-19 vaccines into routine immunization programs, and ensuring more children are protected against various vaccine-preventable diseases,” he added.
These vehicles and equipment have come at a time when partners in Sierra Leone continue to support the government’s efforts to strengthen the health care delivery system and improve child health care services, including immunization, which faced a temporary snag due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move, according to Dr Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone, will help ensure that the COVID-19 vaccination is integrated into routine immunization services in 2023 and beyond to protect children from vaccine-preventable illnesses like polio and measles.
“The protracted nature of the COVID-19 pandemic calls for continued collaboration and partnership to support the ongoing efforts and progress that Sierra Leone has made in the fight against the disease,” says Dr Innocent Nuwagira, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.
In addition to this, another consignment, including two vehicles, one refrigerated van, and 150 solar refrigerators, is expected to arrive in Sierra Leone by March 2023 for handover to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
“In collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone, we will intensify efforts on the deployment of vaccines, the strengthening of the cold chain system, community sensitization and engagement for increased uptake of immunization services”, Dr Braimoh concludes.