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The Ministry of Health and UNICEF discussed joint priorities and a plan of cooperation for the year, including the delivery of vaccines for routine vaccinations for children

30 January 2024

The implementation of the immunization program in accordance with the National Immunization Development Strategy until 2030, the supply and delivery of vaccines to Ukraine, and quality control of drugs, including compliance with the cold chain during transportation and storage, are priority issues on which the Ministry of Health of Ukraine cooperates with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and will strengthen cooperation in 2024. This was discussed during a meeting between representatives of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF. In particular, Deputy Minister of Health, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Ihor Kuzin and Head of the Health and Nutrition Section of UNICEF Ukraine Anne Lavens discussed key vectors of cooperation in immunization and continued work on strengthening the cold chain system, quality control and delivery of vaccines, which will be worked on throughout the year.

“Immunization of the population is a constant priority for the healthcare sector. The coverage of routine vaccinations for some infectious diseases in 2023 exceeded 85% and reached the level of “pre-pandemic” indicators. Despite the military challenges, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with international partners, managed to ensure the uninterrupted availability of vaccines for routine vaccination in each oblast in 2022-23, and 95% of the cold equipment (refrigerators and freezers) used for vaccination was replaced at the national level, from national warehouses to the creation or repair of such cold rooms at the level of oblast centers for disease control and prevention. This allows us to ensure uninterrupted vaccination of the population, availability of medicines in the regions and make vaccinations available to every Ukrainian regardless of their place of residence,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Ihor Kuzin.

Vaccines for routine vaccination according to the National Vaccination Schedule are procured mainly from the state budget. Some vaccines are supplied by international partners at the request of the state in case of increased demand or emergencies. Despite the full-scale war, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with international partners WHO and UNICEF and national procurers, ensured the continuous availability of vaccines for routine vaccinations in 2022 and 2023. In particular, thanks to donor support from international partners in coordination with the Ministry of Health, about 4 million doses of vaccines were delivered to the country in 2022-2023.

In the summer, representatives of the Ministry of Health negotiated the purchase of vaccines to ensure routine vaccinations in 2024 with procurement agencies and international funds. They planned the purchase and delivery of more than 5.5 million doses of vaccines for the current year to carry out vaccinations in accordance with the preventive vaccination schedule.

The oblast centers for disease control and prevention are responsible for receiving vaccines, distributing them, and ensuring that the cold chain conditions are met during storage and transportation to medical facilities in the region. The re-equipment of oblast centers (CDCs) took place within the framework of joint projects with the World Bank and cooperation with international partners UNICEF and WHO. In particular, as part of a joint project of the Ministry of Health and the World Bank, in 2023, health care facilities and CDCs received more than 9,000 units of specialized refrigeration equipment (2068 refrigerators with ice protection, 1034 freezers with a cold storage device, 2066 networked combined refrigerators, 4134 temperature control devices). Also, thanks to the Ministry of Health’s cooperation with international partners UNICEF and WHO in partnership with the EU, 26 cold rooms were equipped, and 36 vehicles were provided to the CDCs to ensure the delivery of vaccines within the oblast and to conduct outreach vaccinations in remote settlements. The vehicles are equipped with refrigerated trucks, which are used to transport the vaccine and maintain the required temperature during transportation from the moment of shipment to delivery.