UNICEF hands over ultra-low temperature freezers for COVID-19 vaccine storage to MoH

UNICEF hands over ultra-low temperature freezers for COVID-19 vaccine storage to MoH

(Image Tatoli/Egas Cristovao)

DILI, 18 october 2021 (TATOLI) – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), officially handed over four ultra-cold temperature freezers for COVID-19 vaccine storage to the Autonomous Medicines and Health Equipment Service(SAMES).

The freezers would enable SAMES to store the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which requires storage at ultra-low temperatures reaching up to minus 86 degrees Celsius.

The ultra-low temperature freezer was handed over to the Minister of Health, by Bilal Durrani, UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste at a ceremony held at the SAMES complex in Dili, on Monday.

The ultra-low temperature freezers were negotiated, procured, and delivered by UNICEF with funding from the COVAX Facility.

The first batch of 100,620 doses of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines arrived in the country on 16 October. The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and Ministry of Health have approved the vaccination of children between 12 and below 18 years with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

“UNICEF has been supporting the Ministry of Health and SAMES set up, maintain and upgrade the national cold-chain storage and distribution system for years, which helps us store and distribute routine and COVID-19 vaccines without interruption,” said Minister Belo.

“The shipment of these freezers will help us store the Pfizer BioNTech vaccines at the required temperatures, and enable us to implement the vaccination campaign for children 12 to under 18 years.”

It is the first time that Timor-Leste can store vaccines at ultra-low temperatures. Since their delivery in the country on 22 september, UNICEF has worked with the Ministry of Health, SAMES, and the manufacturer to make sure that the country is ready for the reception of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines. UNICEF supported SAMES to install and monitor the temperature three times a day to check functionality and is supporting the training of SAMES Technicians, Biomedical Equipment Technicians, and staff to operate, monitor, and maintain the system.

Bilal Durrani, the UNICEF Country Representative informed that storing and transporting vaccines at the right temperatures is critical to safeguard children and adults from life-threatening diseases.

“UNICEF is proud to support Timor-Leste over the years in establishing a cold-chain system in the country for both routine immunizations as well as COVID-19 vaccination. We have taken the cold-chain capacity of the country to a higher level with the installation of this ultra-cold chain system for the first time. Starting from SAMES, we will gradually expand cold-chain systems to other parts of the country,” said Durrani.

UNICEF is also purchasing 16 additional ultra-low temperature freezers for the Ministry of Health, with funding from the Government of Australia. These freezers would be installed at all regional warehouses, enabling the government to store vaccines that require ultra-cold temperatures closer to regional hospitals and municipal health centers and reduce the time and costs of transporting them from Dili to health centers.


Journalist: Filomeno Martins 

Editor: Nelia Borges Rosario 


Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!