Fiji + 1 more

More than 80,000 children in Fiji to receive strengthened immunization support to prevent vaccine preventable child deaths

Suva, Fiji 15 March 2022 – Today, the Government of Japan and UNICEF have together handed over cold chain equipment including 15 solar refrigerators with health kits, 25 cold boxes, 120 vaccine carriers, 500 fridge tags, and three vehicles, including a refrigerated vehicle, to the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services to boost routine vaccination efforts for more than 80,000 children in the country.

In addition, a walk-in-cooler is expected to be delivered over the next few months, while 30 ice lined refrigerators and 15 freezers have already been distributed and installed in health facilities.

“The handing over of the immunization equipment is quite timely considering that World Vaccination Week is celebrated next month from April 24th to April 30th,” said the Hon. Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete. “This equipment would boost our vaccination and immunization drive around the country considering that we are currently tackling both COVID-19 and the Leptospirosis, Typhoid, Dengue and Diarrhoea (LTDD) campaign.”

Providing quality immunization services is one of the safest and most cost-effective interventions to end vaccine preventable child deaths. However, despite a high average national immunization coverage across the Pacific, a significant number of the most vulnerable children in the region living in remote areas still miss out on the recommended number of vaccine doses.

This support is part of the Government of Japan’s commitments to polio eradication, measles, rubella and neonatal tetanus elimination as well as hepatitis B control in the Pacific region, reaching those children who are located in remote rural areas and outer islands who are most at risk of missing out on important recommended vaccinations. The health equipment and vehicles are also supporting the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We thank the Government of Japan for their partnership with UNICEF to support Fiji’s efforts in improving routine immunization coverage and ensuring that a strong cold chain is in place,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “We also appreciate the Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ leadership in strengthening the critical services that healthcare workers provide to keep all children safe and protected.”

Fijian healthcare workers are now able to provide strengthened lifesaving immunization services to better respond to vaccine preventable disease outbreaks through the support of this equipment and transportation.

“This is an auspicious occasion for Japan, Fiji, UNICEF and the region as it is a combination of Japan’s multilateral and respective bilateral cooperation programmes working in sync to deliver tangible assistance for enhancing nationwide immunization campaigns and COVID-19 response strategies. Apart from successfully handing over equipment from the joint project with UNICEF named ‘Strengthening Immunization Programmes in Pacific Island Countries’, Japan also has handed over cold chain equipment from its bilateral support to the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services under two projects named ‘Economic and Social Development Programme’ and ‘Grassroots Grant Assistance Scheme’,” said His Excellency, Mr. KAWAKAMI Fumihiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Fiji.

“These three projects are aimed at ensuring equitable access and swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Fiji and other Pacific Island countries. Since early 2021, Japan has been putting importance on providing cold chain equipment in all over the world. This initiative is named ‘Last One Mile Support’ which ensures the delivery of vaccines to vaccination sites so that COVID-19 vaccines reach each and every person. This is one of Japan’s important COVID-19 vaccine related as well as financial support to the COVAX Facility worth approximately 1 billion US dollars and donation of vaccines.”

Ambassador KAWAKAMI commended the leadership of the Fijian Government and the individual effort of all Fijians in combating both the vaccine preventable child deaths as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said that since the beginning of 2020, the whole world has been tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Fiji has become one of the most vaccinated countries globally and has opened its borders and eased restrictions. Though the threat of the virus has not faded away, Fiji is one of the most successful countries in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovering economic and social activities.

The Government of Japan and UNICEF are working closely with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to ensure that the immunization target for childhood vaccines is achieved with overall improved quality of immunization services.

Notes to Editors:

About the Government of Japan:

Japan provides funds (grants, loans, etc.) and technologies that are useful for “development”, including peacebuilding, governance, promotion of basic human rights and humanitarian assistance, in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to eligible countries and regions. ODA includes bilateral aid to directly assist developing countries and regions, and multilateral aid, which consist of contributions to international organizations such as UNICEF, UNDP, and WHO.

For more information, please contact:

Melaia Katonivualiku, Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services, mela.tuilevuka@gmail.com

Peni Saurara, Embassy of Japan in Fiji, +679 3304633, peni.saurara@fj.mofa.go.jp or eojeconomics@fj.mofa.go.jp

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137, zukhan@unicef.org

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 9988137
Email: zukhan@unicef.org