Vodafone Ghana, through the Vodafone Foundation, has made a significant contribution to improving Ghana’s health infrastructure and fight against the pandemic with the presentation of 459 ‘’cold-chain units,” which include 275 vaccine freezers, 184 ice-lined combination refrigerators and 2 walk-in cold rooms to the Ministry of Health. The equipment is valued at US $1 million.
The donation will boost storage of the COVID-19 vaccines, which has been identified as a challenge for various countries on the African continent. A recent survey of 34 African countries by the African regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that, in 31% of countries, more than 50% of districts have issues with cold-chain capacity that are significantly prohibitive for vaccine rollout.
Cold-chain management is a crucial component of ensuring a safe and effective inoculation drive. All vaccines that are procured require uninterrupted refrigeration from dock to doctor. This means that the vaccines require optimum refrigeration from the point at which they arrive in the destination country to when they are ready to be injected into the arm of a patient. If the cold chain is broken at any point from arrival to administration, the vaccines become ineffective and potentially unsafe.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) played a significant role in the process by helping Vodafone Foundation identify what equipment is needed to manage logistics and vaccine rollout.
Presenting the cold-chain equipment, Patricia Obo-Nai, the Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana said, “We are delighted to support the Ministry of Health with ultra-modern cold storage equipment. This will certainly help improve the safe transportation, storage, and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines across the country. Indeed, it is even more gratifying that this equipment will also assist the government beyond the COVID-19 pandemic with the storage and distribution of other life-saving vaccines, including those used for child immunizations.”
The Minister of Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who received the cold chain equipment, expressed his appreciation to Vodafone Ghana.
“On behalf of my ministry, I express my profound gratitude to Vodafone Ghana and Vodafone Foundation for this great gesture. The cold-chain equipment received today will contribute significantly to the overall immunisation system, including receiving and storing from the national level to the sub-district level of the COVID-19 vaccination program, ” he said.
Commenting on the initiative, Andrew Dunnett, Group Director, Sustainable Development Goals, Sustainable Business and Foundation, said: “This equipment will help ensure that vaccines are safely transported, stored and used both in response to COVID-19 – the largest health intervention in the continent’s history – and for future vaccination program. This donation builds upon the €150m (1.05bn Ghanaian Cedis) in grants and in-kind contributions that Vodafone Group and the Vodafone Foundation have already made in response to the pandemic. ”
Vodafone Foundation and Vodacom Group donated €4.2 million (GHS 29 million) to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines – and other lifesaving medicines – will be securely delivered to Ghana and several other sub-Saharan African countries.
Ghana is the first receiver of the cold-chain equipment, out of a total of 690 units, which were also assigned to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Tanzania. Vodacom Group has also donated 2,197 cold chain equipment in South Africa.
Procurement of the life-saving equipment was managed through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), established by the African Union as a component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy. The procurement of the units for Ghana was facilitated by UNICEF.