Kathmandu: A sophisticated cold chain system management building has been constructed to expand country’s capacity for cold chain storage and stockpile of standard national and emergency vaccines.
The cold chain storage facility was constructed in partnership of Management Division under the Department of Health Services (DoHS), the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) and One Heart Worldwide with the financial support of Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization.
The building covers 1,500 square feet of land. Inaugurating the facility on Wednesday, Dr Roshan Pokharel, Secretary of Ministry of Health and Population said that the facility enables the government to extend medical storage of both routine and COVID-19 vaccines.
The construction of the building was started in June 2022. OHW officially handed over the building to the government on Wednesday. ‘Quick completion of the construction works shows that we can be efficient if we work together,” said Dr Dipendra Raman Singh, Director General, DoHS. He also appreciated the financial and technical support from the One Heart Worldwide.
OHW is honored to be the partner with the Government of Nepal. We would like to extend our gratitude to the government for the partnership that enabled us to come together and help strengthen Nepal’s health system, said David Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of OHW.
The building accommodates one walk-in freezer of 40 cubic meter (m3) and two walk-in coolers of 20 cubic meters. It also includes a guard house, office space, additional store and a generator house.
Direct Relief had provided full financial support of Rs 27 million for the construction of building and installation of equipment such as freezers and coolers and generator.
The facility will have an ultra-low cold freezer room to keep pharmaceuticals with an operating temperature upto minus 25 degree Celsius (adjustable upto plus two degree) which can be maintained even in environments where the ambient temperature may be as high as plus 45 degree Celsius.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, lack of effective cold chain capacity for the vaccine storage was one of the biggest challenges to increase vaccination rates. Nepal’s health system had struggled to appropriately maintain the required temperatures for specialized vaccines like Pfizer due to lack of infrastructure.
“The initiative is an essential part of strengthening Nepal’s health system,” said Surya Bhatta, Executive Director of OHW in Nepal. “The facility helps improve vaccination efforts and enhance capacity to deal with any pandemic situation like Covid-19 in the future.” He further said that sophisticated cold chain facility is also essential for improving maternal and neonatal outcomes, which is the heart of our work in Nepal’s rural municipalities. The facility will help the government partners also to leverage resources at the local level to transport the vaccine to more remote locations and improve the impact of immunization campaigns, said the Direct Relief.