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Home / Japan aids Unicef with N$24m for vaccines

Japan aids Unicef with N$24m for vaccines

2022-03-07  Paheja Siririka

Japan aids Unicef with N$24m for vaccines

The Japanese government last week committed a financial contribution of N$24 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund, with a particular focus on ensuring the delivery of safe and timely vaccines to all Namibians.

This is to renew its commitment to universal health coverage, while bridging the gap for maternal and child health services in Namibia.

Unicef country representative Rachel Odede said the funds will enable them to provide the much-needed supplies to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and sustained capacity during these challenging times.

“Although cases of Covid-19 are reported to be on a decline during the past four months of summer, the country still needs to prepare itself for possible increases in the coming winter months of May, June and July,” she stated.

Odede added: “Working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, with support from other stakeholders, we will also be able to monitor the benefits of these supplies and the challenges faced by the hard-to-reach regions in the delivery and storage of vaccines.”

From the N$24 million received, Unicef has committed N$10.7 million towards the procurement of essential vaccine equipment like cold-chain equipment for the Erongo, Hardap, //Kharas, Kunene, Omusati, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa, Kavango East and Kavango West regions.

The remaining N$13.5 million will be used to develop capacity and strengthen vaccine management, especially at health facility level for 2022 and 2023.

During the announcement, Japanese ambassador to Namibia Harada Hideaki said collaborations such as these are needed during these times to ensure the continuous availability of vaccines in all regions, in particular at sub-national level, while reducing wastage and increasing distribution.

It is also envisaged that this assistance will contribute to the overall strengthening of health emergency preparedness and response planning at sub-national level, while increasing demand for routine immunisation services across Namibia.

At the recently-launched National Hospital and Primary Healthcare and the National Quality Policy and Strategy, World Health Organisation country representative Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 emphasises improving access to quality health services for all through the universal health coverage (UHC) target.

“Increased access must be accompanied by improved quality of health services to achieve better health outcomes,” he stated.

Sagoe-Moses added: “Quality of care is worst for vulnerable groups, including the poor, the less educated, adolescents, those with stigmatised conditions, and those at the edges of health systems, such as people in prisons. Improving quality should be a core component of UHC initiatives, alongside expanding coverage and financial protection.”

The WHO says several countries are already making development towards UHC, although everywhere, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the ability of health systems to provide undisrupted health services.

Additionally, stirring to UHC necessitates consolidating health systems in all countries, which means that robust financing structures are key. When people have to pay most of the costs for health services out of their own pockets, the poor are often unable to obtain many of the services they need, and even the rich may be exposed to financial hardship in the event of severe or long-term illness. 

Another key figure in assisting countries like Namibia with recognising the importance of UHC is the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that countries that have strong and resilient public health systems can quickly prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats before they become epidemics. 

The CDC strengthens the health ministry’s system through workforce capacity-building, including supporting the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (FELTP).

CDC Namibia has also directly supported a range of outbreak investigations, including Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, rabies among livestock with human exposures, anthrax in animals, cholera, listeriosis, Hepatitis E and H1N1 influenza.

2022-03-07  Paheja Siririka

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