Tarawa, Kiribati 23 June 2022– Today, the Government of Japan, together with UNICEF, have handed over three ultra-cold chain refrigerators to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Kiribati to support the national vaccine rollout.
“This donation comes at just the right time for Kiribati, as the setup of UCC infrastructure is underway to accommodate the sensitive vaccines to be used for our 12 to 17 year olds, and for those eligible for booster doses,” said Director for Public Health, Eretii Timeon. “MHMS is very grateful for the generous donations of these essential equipment and would like to extend a sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Japan and to UNICEF for the technical support,” she added.
The ultra-cold chain equipment is a first of its kind to enter the country in support of the introduction of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines which arrived in Kiribati last month. These COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines require ultra-low temperature ranging from -60°C to -90°C.
These Pfizer vaccines will be administered as a booster dose for those 18 years of age and above. In addition, the vaccines will also be targeted for children who are between 12 to 17 years of age as well as those 12 years and over who will be eligible for booster in the coming months.
“UNICEF congratulates Kiribati on the progress made with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and encourages those who already received their first and second doses to get their booster to protect themselves, their children, and their community,” said UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of Kiribati Field Office, Nick Rice Chudeau. “We thank the Government and people of Japan for the strong partnership in ensuring that lifesaving medical supplies also reach one of the most remote islands in the Pacific. We also thank the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for their leadership and efforts to keep communities safe.”
Through technical support provided by UNICEF, two of the ultra-cold chain refrigerators have already been installed at the Tungaru Central Hospital in South Tarawa, while one has been shipped to Kiritimati Island to cater for the eligible population in the Line and Phoenix District. In addition, two standby power generators will also be provided to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to act as backup power for the ultra-cold chain equipment, in case of power outages on the islands.
“First, we would like to express our sympathy to the people of Kiribati who have been affected by the drought. While Kiribati is also facing the same COVID-19 threats as the rest of the world, we are very pleased to be able to provide timely support to the country, in partnership with UNICEF. We are confident that the ultra-low temperature refrigerators provided this time will contribute to Pfizer and other vaccines that require ultra-low temperature storage in Kiribati,” said His Excellency, Mr. KAWAKAMI Fumihiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Kiribati.
“Since early 2021, Japan puts importance on providing cold chain equipment 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 support,” he added.
Ambassador KAWAKAMI also said that he would like to convey his deepest condolences and sympathies to the people of Kiribati who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 as well as for all the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic. He praises the leadership of His Excellency, President Taneti Maamau, and the Kiribati Government for effectively guiding the nation through these difficult times.
UNICEF stands ready to continue on-the-ground support, through funding from Japan and other partners, to ensure that healthcare workers are equipped with the vital training and information they need to work with the newly provided cold chain equipment, as well as to support the roll-out of the vaccines.
Notes to Editors:
About the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Kiribati:
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is chairing a National COVAX Committee as part of her key role to coordinate, plan and implement the deployment of COVID-19 vaccination. This committee is not limiting its communication and collaboration to key developmental partners who are currently contributing to the coordination and planning for COVID-19 vaccination, which includes MFAT, DFAT, China Embassy, and technical partners such as UNICEF and WHO, but also communicates to those other developmental and technical partners who are keen to contribute to ensure the targeted mission of COVID-19 vaccination in Kiribati is achieved. This national committee links to COVAX facility through GAVI, to ensure Kiribati submits proposals to seek for funding and technical support to procure COVID-19 vaccines and to support the logistics for deployment which are suitable to Kiribati setting and environment.
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:
Mrs Ema Taareita, OIC, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, +686 740 28100, Ema.Nauan@mhms.gov.ki and/or
Ms Eretii Timeon, Director of Public Health Services, +686 740 28100, email@example.com
Peni Saurara, Embassy of Japan in Fiji, +679 3304633, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Emma Temakei, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +686 752 29269, firstname.lastname@example.org