Cold chain optimization equipment worth $6.59 million funded by Japan and procured through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for enhancing national capacity to store COVID-19 vaccines, was handed over to the government of Pakistan, in Islamabad on Wednesday. Parliamentary Secretary on Health Dr Nausheen Hamid received the cold chain equipment from the Ambassador of Japan, Matsuda Kuninori, in presence of the UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Aida Girma. “We greatly value the significant contributions made by Japan during the last 70 years of its diplomatic relations with Pakistan,” said Dr Nausheen Hamid. “Over the years, the two countries have partnered in various sectors including health, education, power and many other. I affirm our strong desire to further deepen and broaden our bilateral ties with Japan.” “The EPI in Pakistan has a strong cold chain system that is considered the backbone of the programme as it handles and stores massive quantities of vaccines inclusive of all kinds of COVID-19 vaccines.” The equipment procured through funds from Japan, include power generators, voltage regulators and temperature monitoring devices which will enhance vaccine storage capacity of EPI. The new equipment would help to ensure optimum temperature control at storage facilities thus maintaining the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Japan has extended a total of $23.5 million grant assistance to Pakistan for its counter-COVID-19 measures – including provision of hygiene items, medical equipment – and training of health care staff. Matsuda stressed that Japan has prioritised the health sector as part of its development cooperation policy for Pakistan for decades, including maternal and child health, polio eradication, routine immunization and counter-COVID-19 measures. “I am looking forward to seeing a new chapter added to the friendship between Japan and Pakistan on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year,” the ambassador said. “Today’s ceremony reinforces the high level and longstanding support of the Government of Japan to UNICEF in its efforts to procure vaccines and essential equipment for strengthening immunization services in Pakistan,” said Aida Girma.