South Africa and Ghana have received new cold-chain storage equipment for medicines used to treat COVID-19 and other serious illnesses, following a €4.2 million donation by Vodafone Foundation and Vodacom Group.
All vaccines require uninterrupted refrigeration from their arrival in the destination country to their injection into the patient’s arm. If the cold chain is broken at any point from arrival to administration, the vaccines become ineffective and potentially unsafe.
The cold-chain equipment, which includes freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes and carriers, can also assist government beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and help with the storage and distribution of other life-saving vaccines, including those used for child immunisations.
Ghana’s Minister of Health, Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, receives the cold-chain equipment
Storage of COVID-19 vaccines has been identified as a challenge for African countries. A recent survey of 34 African countries by the African regional office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that, in 31% of countries, more than 50% of districts have issues with cold-chain capacity that are significantly impacting vaccine rollout.
Cold-chain equipment is essential to the safe delivery of COVID-19 vaccines
The donation from Vodacom Group funded 2,197 cold chain units, which were allocated to South Africa, while Vodafone Foundation’s donation assisted in the funding of 690 units which were allocated to Ghana (461), the Democratic Republic of Congo (28), Mozambique (189) and Tanzania (12). South Africa and Ghana were the first to receive their deliveries, with the remaining countries following over the coming months.
"This equipment will help ensure that vaccines are safely transported, stored and used both in response to COVID-19 - the largest health intervention in the continent’s history - and for future vaccination programmes,” says Andrew Dunnett, Group Director, Sustainable Development Goals, Sustainable Business and Foundation.
“This donation builds upon the €150m in grants and in-kind contributions that Vodafone Group and the Vodafone Foundation have already made in response to the pandemic.”
Cold-chain equipment is installed in South Africa
The procurement process was managed through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), which was established by the African Union to support the Africa Vaccine Strategy. Unicef has supported Vodafone Foundation by liaising with local health ministries to identify what equipment is needed and to manage logistics.
“We are pleased to be able to work closely with the National Department of Health and support the vaccine rollout programme, ensuring that much needed Covid-19 vaccines reach vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities,” says Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, Vodafone’s largest business in Africa.
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