The Ministry of Health has received an Australian donation of 33 freezers to assist with keeping certain Covid-19 vaccines at temperatures of -80C as well as 100 freezers that can chill their contents to -20C.

According to a press release issued by the Australian embassy on February 28, Australia provided the freezers to support Cambodia’s efforts to provide Covid-19 vaccines to its people.

It said the freezers, delivered in partnership with UNICEF, are essential equipment to strengthen Cambodia’s cold chain capacity.

Australian ambassador Pablo Kang said a little over one year ago that the Cambodian government and its partners began a very successful vaccination programme that has reached almost the entire adult population with over half of them given booster shots.

Health minister Mam Bun Heng received the ULT freezers in a handover ceremony attended by Kang and UNICEF representative in Cambodia Foroogh Foyouzat.

“Booster shots are an important part of the global vaccination effort to reduce severe illness and deaths from Covid-19. I encourage all eligible Cambodians to receive a booster to protect yourselves and your family,” Kang said.

According to the embassy, the 133 freezers are part of a larger A$35.7 million (US$26 million) package of support from Australia to be delivered in partnership with UNICEF.

This package includes the 2.35 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines delivered to the Kingdom in December.

The new ULT freezers will enable longer-term storage of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in every province, including the most remote areas. UNICEF teams will help to install the equipment, provide training for its use and monitor its impact.

The equipment will continue to strengthen the nation’s healthcare system in the future, according to the press release.

Kang noted that Australia was appreciative of the health ministry’s and UNICEF’s efforts to work directly with communities to identify and reach the most vulnerable populations.

“We are pleased to assist the ministry and ensure an equitable and socially inclusive campaign,” he said.

Foyouzat said UNICEF is proud to have worked side-by-side with partners like the Australian embassy on Cambodia’s world-leading vaccination drive.

With generous donations from Australia, UNICEF would be able to continue supporting Cambodia’s fight against Covid-19 and also strengthening the health system beyond the pandemic, she said.

“This additional cold chain capacity will be invaluable to Cambodia’s health services for many years ahead by improving routine immunisation access for children and saving countless young lives. We’re grateful to have played a part in this legacy for the future,” she said.

Bun Heng emphasised that the noble generosity of the government and people of Australia would always be remembered by Cambodia and its health officials as well as the victims of Covid-19.

“I would like to call on all people to get booster shots even though they have already been vaccinated. And please strictly implement the three dos and three don’ts preventive measures every day,” he said.

The three do rules are wear a mask, wash hands frequently with alcohol or gel, and keep social distance of at least 1.5m. The three don’ts are avoidance of enclosed spaces, crowded places and close contact such as a hug or handshake.