Official information emanating from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed the disbursement of US$2.5 million to the government of the Gambia in a bid to support the tiny West African nation’s fight against Covid-19.
The one hundred and twenty-five million dalasi (D125million) Covid support fund was delivered to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support The Gambia Government’s efforts against COVID-19, through the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A statement released by UNICEF says “the funding will be used to support Infection and Prevention Control measures to ensure the continuation of critical lifesaving services, procurement of cold chain equipment and related supplies as well as upgrade and strengthen regional and sub-regional cold stores and provide capacity-building assistance to promote COVID-19 vaccination in The Gambia.
“The funds will complement national efforts to reach its target vaccination rate of 70 percent among eligible adults in a timely and effective manner. The grant will also support health system strengthening through the provision of cold chain equipment which will benefit 1.5 million people,” UNICEF disclosed in its release.
It added: “The cold chain equipment and supplies that will be procured include solar-powered walk-in cold rooms, mobile vaccination vehicles, solar-powered refrigerators, and motorcycles for health workers. Health-care workers from 76 health facilities will be trained in preventive maintenance and 24 technicians will also be trained to repair equipment in case of breakdown.”
The United Nations Children’s Funds continued to disclose that a total of 20 national facilitators and 1000 community health workers/village health workers will be trained to support the administration and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines, noting that the grant will also help to extend the reach to villages without primary health care centers and thereby improve coverage of immunization services.
“This project will fully support UNICEF’s COVID-19 response efforts in The Gambia and will promote friendship between Japan and The Gambia”, said Mr. Daisuke Nakajima, Charge d’affaires of the Embassy of Japan to The Gambia.
“We share one goal: to protect and provide the necessary information, material, and tools to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in The Gambia.” according to Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF Gambia Representative.
The UNICEF Gambia Representative further highlighted that in 2021, the Government of Japan supported the Gambian Government and UNICEF with essential lifesaving nutrition supplies worth $US200,000 that was part of a total budget of $US340,200 awarded by the Government of Japan to UNICEF to respond to nutritional emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that these supplies were used to treat 4,218 children aged 6-59 months with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
The UNICEF Gambia Chief also disclosed that the Gambia is one of 17 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and African regions benefiting from the Government of Japan Emergency Grant Aid of $US30 million towards Cold Chain system strengthening to reduce the impact of the COVID pandemic.