- Health

Japan strengthens COVID-19 response in the Lao PDR with cold chain equipment and 320,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

The Government of Japan on Dec 28 officially handed over cold chain equipment to the Ministry of Health to strengthen the Lao PDR’s ongoing roll out of COVID-19 vaccination. The equipment provided include 208 vaccine and icepack freezers, 480 refrigerators, spare parts for cold chain equipment, 500 vaccine carriers, 100 cold boxes and 10,000 ice packs. The items have a total combined value amounting to USD 913,141 and is a contribution made through UNICEF with the financial support of the Government of Japan.

The cold chain equipment provided is part of a project implemented by the Government of Japan to support cold chain system strengthening for the Lao PDR’s COVID-19 response, under which a total of USD 1.1. million has been allotted. Apart from the procurement of cold chain equipment, the remaining amount will be allocated towards furthering technical cooperation between Japan and the Government of the Lao PDR to support the Lao PDR’s cold chain system in the future.

“The Ministry of Health thanks the Government of Japan for this generous contribution of cold chain equipment. By strengthening the Lao PDR’s cold chain capacity and ability to store more COVID-19 vaccines, we will be able to reach even more people with life-saving vaccines during the pandemic,” remarked Dr. Phayvanh Keopaseuth , Vice Minister of Health.

In addition to the cold chain equipment, Japan also officially handed over 320,200 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to the Ministry of Health during the official ceremony, which previously arrived in the Lao PDR on 23 December. The vaccines were a donation made by Japan through the COVAX Facility – a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as a key delivery partner.

“This latest support from the Government of Japan is symbolic of our good will to the people of the Lao PDR during this challenging time,” said Mr. Kobayashi Kenichi, the Japanese Ambassador to the Lao PDR. “Cold Chain Equipment forms a vital part of the vaccine rollout, and I am therefore delighted that we are able to provide a range of equipment, including vaccine freezers and refrigerators to Laos to support and strengthen the vaccination system today. Furthermore, we are proud to have recently supported the Lao PDR with 320,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which will help protect high-risk groups in the country. It is my strong hope that these vaccines, together with this Cold Chain Equipment, will go a long way towards helping Laos to be able to vaccinate their population.” he added.

“In addition to supporting the Government of Laos with COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF is proud to be supporting the Ministry of Health in upgrading its cold chain capacity and providing technical guidance in this regard. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and our partners to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for the Lao people,” remarked Ms. Leotes Helin, UNICEF Representative a.i. to the Lao PDR.

Source: Lao News Agency