Gasabo - The United States Agency for International development (USAID) yesterday handed over to the Ministry of Health (MOH) equipment worth US $614,000 (approx Rwf 340 million) to store Pneumonia vaccines.
The equipment whose handover took place at the National Vaccination Centre in Gasabo district, includes a 10 cubic meter cold room facility and a set of cold chain equipment that has 100 kerosene-powered refrigerators, 258 vaccine carriers, 100 cold boxes, 67 ice packs, 1,000 thermometers and 250 voltage regulators.
The cold chain equipment which is valued at US$ 464,000 was procured and delivered to the country by the United Nations Children’s Fund Rwanda (UNICEF Rwanda) with funding from USAID.
The US$ 150,000 worth cold room which was provided to the Centre by USAID through Family Health International is going to increase the storage capacity for the vaccine.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Agnes Binagwaho, commended USAID for providing the equipment saying that it was going to play a crucial role in the health sector.
“This is to equip the health centres and it is going to help in reducing the child mortality rate in the country,” she said.
“Rwanda is proud to have been one of the first countries in Africa to receive the pneumonia vaccine.”
Binagwaho cautioned the health workers in various districts to be strict with the equipments and use them well.
The cold room and the equipment will store and preserve approximately 1.4 million doses of the vaccine which was donated by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals through the Global Alliance for vaccines and Immunisation last month.
Speaking to The New Times, the director of Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry, Dr. Fidele Ngabo, said that the equipment would be distributed to the health centres in all districts this week.
“We are distributing the cold boxes to all health centres in the country this week and next week we shall distribute the vaccine,” said Ngabo.
“The vaccination process will kick off on the 24th April around the country.”
According to Ngabo, in Rwanda, pneumonia is responsible for the 20 percent child mortality and he believes that the vaccine is going to help in reducing it.
The vaccine has proven to be an effective measure to increase the immune response among infants and young children and reduces preventable deaths.