Georgetown, Guyana: The Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, along with the Maternal and Child Health Officer, Dr Oneka Scott, received twenty-three (23) Solar Direct Cold Chain Equipment from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The donation was received by the Ministry on April 5, 2023 at the Ministry of Health’s Central Supplies Unit located in Kingston.
As per the update shared by the Ministry of Guyana, the donation will aid in the enhancement of the Ministry’s immunisation efforts, and support vaccine storage, especially in remote regions. During his brief remarks, Minister Anthony expressed appreciation to UNICEF for their kind gesture and ongoing donation toward mobilisation resources, particularly for immunisation and COVID-19 vaccines, for the health sector in Guyana.
Further, he emphasised that Guyana was able to benefit from a few donations, including the Paxlovid Medication, which is a treatment for COVID-19 patients; storage containers, which aid in the transporting of vaccines, particularly in remote areas; and a steady stream of vaccines, such as the Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccine as a booster dose, through various partnerships.
“Through UNICEF, GAVI, COVAX, and other partners, we have a steady stream of vaccines, and we now have the Bivalent vaccine for COVID-19, and I encourage persons to get their booster shot if you have not yet received it because it protects you and it is the most up-to-date vaccine on the market that will help to protect against the Omicron variant,” Minister Anthony stated, as per the Ministry.
In addition, Dr Anthony explained that the addition of these twenty-three Solar Direct Cold Chain Equipment would help to complement and have an impact on the plans that the Ministry has to provide at the health centre level.
“We have a comprehensive plan of what we want to offer at the health centre level, and it includes providing for immunisation, so these donations will complement and supplement the fridges we already have in place, and with those that we have already started to distribute in the various regions, we think it is important to have them in place and working so that people can start reaping the benefits,” he stated.
While thanking the Maternal and Child Health Department staff, Dr Anthony stated that, despite a slight decrease in some antigens, Guyana has one of the best immunisation programmes when compared to other countries that have seen a decrease in vaccination for many antigens. With this, he added that more work needs to be done on some specific antigens, such as the HPV vaccine, to intensify the programme and have more people comprehend the benefits of the vaccines.
Meanwhile, Akhtar thanked the Minister of Health and all frontline employees for their ongoing efforts to safeguard against COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable diseases. He emphasised that, with World Immunisation Week coming up later this month, the contributions will help to raise awareness about the benefits of vaccines while also ensuring that every child has access to vaccines.
“I think these items coming at the time of vaccination week will create much more awareness and create more access to the vaccines”, Akhtar said.
Further, he emphasised that the donated equipment is the most dependable cold-chain equipment available, allowing the COVID-19 and other critical vaccines to reach communities securely, especially in remote villages and hinterland regions.
MCH Officer Dr Scott stated that with the increasing inventory of cutting-edge vaccine cold chain equipment, the new addition of the Solar Direct Cold Chain Equipment works with Satellite Remote temperature monitoring (RTMD). Once a satellite connection is made, the temperature of solar vaccine fridges in the hinterland regions will be able to be monitored.
The simple handing-over ceremony was attended by the Director of Rehabilitation and Disability Services; Dr Ariane Mangar; Medex Andrea Budburgh; and other staff from the MoH MCH Department and UNICEF.