The Japanese government and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have provided the Ministry of Health with essential equipment to strengthen cold-chain management of Covid-19 vaccines to help ensure the regular delivery of them and better long-term processing within the Kingdom.

The Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh and UNICEF said in a joint press statement on September 20 that essential equipment to strengthen the cold chain management of Covid-19 vaccines was donated to the Ministry of Health during a handover ceremony at the capital's central medical storage facility.

The equipment includes 21 ice-lined refrigerators, 21 voltage regulators and 271 refrigeration tags for temperature monitoring. The donation was funded by the Japanese government with procurement support provided by UNICEF.

Improved cold-chain systems and facilities in place throughout Cambodia will ensure strong Covid-19 vaccines storage capacity and will enhance the country’s routine immunisations in the longer term, the statement said.

Some of the most effective vaccines developed against Covid-19 – such as Moderna or Pfizer’s MRNA vaccines – have stringent deep-cold temperature requirements for their storage and transportation.

The support is part of Japan’s emergency grant aid totaling $36.9 million that was contributed to UNICEF to support 12 countries in the East Asia and Pacific regions for improving their cold-chain capacities. A total of $907,588 of this funding was specifically allocated to Cambodia.

The Kingdom has vaccinated approximately 11.5 million people aged 12 and over to date, or about 95 per cent of the targeted population. This makes Cambodia one of the most vaccinated countries not only in the ASEAN region but globally, which is an exceptional achievement according to the statement.

Japan ambassador Masahiro Mikami said that for most vaccines to remain effective, they must be kept at the right temperature until administered, which is exactly what the donated equipment will do.

“We feel very confident that our contribution will powerfully and positively support further remarkable progress towards recovery [for Cambodia]. Our friendship with the people of Cambodia is deep, and we hope this support will allow Cambodia to take another step forward,” he said.

UNICEF representative to Cambodia Foroogh Foyouzat said the people of Japan have been great friends to the Cambodian people throughout this crisis and this is yet another way in which they have provided essential support to Cambodia to assist the country with its extraordinary efforts to respond to the pandemic.

“This support from the government of Japan will play an important role in the success of Cambodia’s Covid-19 vaccination programme and contribute to the country’s recovery plans by further strengthening its immunisation capabilities,” she said.