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Japan and UNICEF partnership to support cold chain for efficient deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in Vanuatu

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Port Vila, Vanuatu, 8 December 2021 – Today, the Government of Japan and UNICEF have handed over 20 solar refrigerators and freezers to the Vanuatu Ministry of Health to support efficient deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the country.

“The Ministry of Health acknowledges the timely support by the Government of Japan and UNICEF that is important to support the Government’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Vanuatu,” said the Minister for Health, Hon. Silas Bule Melve. He added, “With better vaccine storage equipment, our health facilities around the country will ensure our citizens continue to access the vaccination programme in rural Vanuatu.”

These solar refrigerators and freezers are expected to support the Vanuatu Govt drive to vaccinate all the eligible population through strengthening the cold chain management system. The supplies will help deliver life-saving vaccines to health facilities and communities, including those in remote islands, providing a significant improvement to the health system.

“Ensuring equitable access to and swift distribution of vaccines is a key challenge shared by the international community towards the goal of containing COVID-19. This cold chain support for Vanuatu is a part of Japan's "Last One Mile Support" to ensure that vaccines reach each and every person in the all corners of developing countries,” said the Ambassador of Japan to Vanuatu, H.E. Chiba Hirohisa. He also reaffirmed, “Japan has always been with the people of Vanuatu and will continue to strongly support Vanuatu’s fight against COVID-19 and the efforts for economic recovery of the nation after the pandemic.”

Although Vanuatu has not had any community transmission, the global pandemic still presents a serious risk to the country, with the limited resources available to fight the deadly disease.

“While Vanuatu has remained largely unscathed by COVID-19 compared to the rest of the world, UNICEF’s strengthened partnership with the Government of Japan is important to ensure that the country quickly moves to achieving 90 per cent coverage of its eligible population with the vaccine,” stated UNICEF’s Chief of Vanuatu Field Office, Eric Durpaire. “Our ongoing work with the Government of Vanuatu and partners ensures that the health system is robust to ensure children, families and communities are safe and protected”.

UNICEF has been working closely with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health to help prevent the introduction and spread of the virus among communities. This includes supporting the vital procurement of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility as well as providing technical and financial resources for the roll out of vaccination in the country.

Notes to Editors:

This funding is part of the broader Japanese Emergency Grant Aid of approximately USD 41 million to 25 countries in Southeast and Southwest Asia and the Pacific. The 25 countries include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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:

Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health

Jean Jacques Rory, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, +678 774 5450,

UNICEF Pacific:

**In Vanuatu **- Rebecca Olul, +678 776 6604,

**In Fiji **- Zubnah Khan, +679 9988137,

Embassy of Japan in Vanuatu

Watahashi Hiroko, Embassy of Japan in Vanuatu, +678 29393,