Ghana ready to effectively store Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

Covid Vaccines
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

UNICEF has donated 30 ultra-low temperature freezers to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service for storage of vaccines, especially the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The freezers, valued at about $1 million, are expected to support 12 regional health directorates, five teaching hospitals, 10 regional hospitals, quasi-government hospitals and one private hospital.

They were acquired through the sponsorship of the Japan Government and can accommodate between 500 and 850 litres of vaccines each.

Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF representative in Ghana, said data showed that people who ended up in critical conditions at hospitals were those who had not been vaccinated.

She commended the Government of Japan for the immense contribution it had made to Ghana’s health system, including the area of nutrition.

“We value the dedication of Japan, their strategic partnership and commitment and they should be rest assured that they will not be forgotten,” she said.

Mr Tsutomu Himeno, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, said the Japan Government was pleased to hand over the freezers to Ghana because it was going to improve the health of the citizenry and that although providing health care was important, prevention was the most salient.

To enable the public to enjoy their lives and contribute their quota to family and national development, he said their health needs were to be prioritised.

“We are also happy to support Ghana because of the strong friendship we have with them as if Ghana is our girlfriend,” he added.

Mr Tsutomu said the Embassy was confident that the equipment were in safe hands and would be used for the intended purpose and be well maintained.

Mr Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, said the freezers would enable them to access ultra-low temperature vaccines from across the globe.

He said the response strategy to the COVID-19 outbreak was initially focused on non-pharmaceutical interventions, including face masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene among others.

Mr Oku-Afari said, however, as global efforts towards the search for COVID-19 vaccination had become an additional preventive measure to the already existing protocols, Ghana had authorised the use of AstraZeneca, Sputnik-V, Janssen, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Between March and September 2021, over two million persons had been vaccinated with at least one dose and 825,706 were fully vaccinated, he said.

In the next three weeks, Mr Oku-Afari said the Government would receive about four-million vaccines, out of which 3.5 million would be Pfizer vaccines that required ultra-low cold temperature freezers for storage.

He, therefore, expressed the nation’s gratitude to the Government of Japan for investing more than $2.3 million in strengthening Ghana’s health systems, including contributing to quality maternal and child health care and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, thanked Japan and UNICEF for the excellent support given to improve the country’s healthcare system through many interventions, including the COVID-19 case management and stage of vaccination.

He said the freezers would be well maintained to maximise the benefit to the people.

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