Lekey Zangmo 

The Government of Japan through UNICEF provided cold chain system equipment worth Nu 119.7 million to the health ministry in Thimphu yesterday.

The equipment worth USD 1.4 million consisted of 2,134 cold chain equipment, 500 temperature monitoring devices and 2 generators. As a part of the support, extensive capacity building for biomedical professionals in the repair and maintenance of cold chain equipment was also carried out.

The cold chain is the backbone of any immunization program and a robust cold chain system ensures that children and women receive safe and effective vaccination services. This is expected to strengthen the cold chain system to store the Covid-19 vaccines at various temperatures across the country.

The diverse set of cold chain equipment helps to store and transport Covid-19 vaccines as well as routine vaccines in the recommended temperature range.

The officiating secretary of MoH, Pemba Wangchuk said, “Aside from the grant support, the Government of Japan’s support helped build the capacity of our technicians in the area of maintenance, repair and up-keep of cold chain equipment”.

According to the health ministry, all the cold chain equipment received to date were installed in health facilities. They are being used to improve immunisation efforts so that Bhutanese requiring vaccination services are not left behind.

UNICEF Bhutan’s Representative Marie-Consolée Mukangendo said, “The Government of Japan’s support was instrumental in Bhutan’s successful response to the pandemic and it has contributed to achieving high Covid-19 vaccination coverage for children and adults including routine immunization coverage.”

The support has enhanced the storage capacity for life-saving vaccines by more than three folds in Bhutan and built the capacity of the cold chain, biomedical and electrical professionals in the repair and maintenance of cold chain equipment.

The funding will help the ministry to digitalise the services to better track and monitor online, the type of cold chain equipment, its location, its temperature and others.