BLOEMFONTEIN: To strengthen South Africa’s vaccination programme in all areas of the country, Vodacom and the Free State Department of Health are pleased to announce the distribution of 136 new cold chain units, worth R1.8 million, across the province. The handover took place today at the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein with Free State MEC for Health, Montseng Tsiu in attendance.
Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation have donated R74 million in the procurement of cold chain equipment, ensuring the safe delivery and administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other life-saving medicine, to several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has received 2 197 units of this essential equipment, which are being distributed across all nine provinces.
The 136 cold chain units received by the Free State province consists of five vaccine freezers, 20 ice-lined vaccine fridges, 40 cooler boxes, 65 electronic temperature loggers, two remote temperature devices and four remote probes.
The equipment is benefitting 21 sites across all four districts of the province: Lejweleputswa, Mangaung, Thabo Mofutsanyana and Xhariep.
“Since the start of Covid-19, Vodacom has partnered with government to respond to the pandemic and help to save lives. This distribution of cold chain equipment strengthens this collective effort, by ensuring South Africans have access to safe vaccinations, especially for those in hard-to-reach communities,” says Evah Mthimunye, Managing Executive of Central Region for Vodacom.
Free State MEC for Health, Montseng Tsiu said: “Vaccination is the only proven defence against Covid-19 severe illness and death and this message needs to be sent to everyone. It must be made to sink in, so that our people must be persuaded by evidence that those who have vaccinated have not fallen ill or died as a result of vaccination. Our society needs to go back to the new normality of vaccinating, taking vaccine boosters, using masks, keeping social distance where possible, regular hand washing, hand sanitizing as well as taking their flu vaccines during winter times to curb other opportunistic ailments. We need to be more alert and more aware of the need to practice preventative health care practices such as vaccination and generally adhering to the global requirements of immunization”.
Reliable cold chain management is critical in ensuring a safe, effective vaccination drive. Vaccines need uninterrupted refrigeration to meet certain temperature requirements, from manufacture to administration. If the cold chain is broken at any point in supply, the efficacy of vaccines may be affected, which means they become potentially unsafe for immunisation.
Addressing cold chain capacity and vaccination distribution logistics can help to improve vaccination rates across Africa. In a survey of 34 African countries by the African regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), 31% of countries had gaps in cold chain storage in more than 50% of districts.
“This donation is life changing, having a positive impact on local communities well into the future. Increased capacity in cold chain equipment can also assist with the distribution of other vaccines and medicine, such as child immunisation programmes. This underpins our commitment to our Social Contract, as we strive to build a better future for all post pandemic efforts,” adds Mthimunye.