The Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA) in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has held a one-day training on emergency preparedness and effective response to mitigate Cold Chain Equipment (CCE) damage.
The training, which was sponsored by UNICEF was held in Awka, and had in attendance members of the State Cold Chain/Immunization Unit and Cold Chain Officers (CCO) from the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state. This was also to ensure uninterrupted supply of vaccines/commodities during disasters.
The objectives of the training were to refresh participant’s knowledge on Cold Chain Equipment (CCE) Management practices and Standard operational procedures in its safeguarding.
It was also to introduce emergency preparedness planning for disasters as part of their EVM Practices, provide participants with the opportunity to take stock and reflect on the experience of recent flood disaster and to develop a workable plan ahead on CCE damage prevention.
The Executive Secretary, ASPHCDA, Pharm Chisom Uchem in her opening remark urged for a supportive system to ensure continuous flow and strengtheningof healthcare system.
Pharm Uchem who was represented by the Director Disease Control and Immunization, ASPHCDA, Dr. Nnamdi Placid Uliagbafusi noted that there was a new phase in the Agency where everyone was been carried along.
She urged all to be supportive both at the state and LGA levels to ensure improvement in the state’s immunization data and continuous potency of our vaccines.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure that the state reaches/achieves its National target on immunization coverage,’’she stated. She emphasized on attentiveness to what was being taught so that the efforts of the State and its partners like, UNICEF, WHO, NPHCDA were not be in vain but produce results.
Speaking on essence of the training, the Executive Secretary expressed concern that several Cold Chain Equipment which were meant to improve vaccine storage capacities were damaged as a result of the 2022 flooding in some LGAs across the state.
“In as much as the UNICEF intervention has aided in repairs of some damaged CCE, it will not be wise to allow another flood destroy these equipments again.
“Hence your invitation to this training, which is to well equip the CCOs with the necessary knowledge on the expected proactive approach and the response to disasters,”she said.
Dr. Uliagbafusi who also was a facilitator at the training noted that the CCOs should have a maintenance plan for their CCE in the face of disasters.
He explained emergency preparedness to be those set of actions/activities carried out in the wake of disasters to be in place before the disasters occur.
He portrayed an example with our daily lives as those things we fall back on incase we have problems.
“When it comes to immunization and vaccine management, there are principles we should know and what we are expected to do. So, we should know the basics of our job as it will make us innovative in discharging our duties.”
Using those in riverine areas as examples, the Director noted that flood was a perennial issue of which volume of destruction differs.
“While some flooding like that of 2012 and 2022 was too disastrous, we need you to understand your terrain, know the areas that are likely to be flooded during flooding and have plans put in place on what to do when the flooding starts.’’
He urged every LGA to develop its plan as it would aid to minimize effects of flood on the CCE as a result of preparations and proactive measures/actions previously taken or put in place.
The State CCO, ASPHCDA, Mr. Augustine Aniesona explained that there was need to prepare the Cold Chain managers to proactively respond to disasters and mitigate any damage caused by flood to logistic storage equipments at their Health facilities.
He noted that in 2022, Anambra State was one of the states seriously affected by the annual flood disaster as 10 LGAs were affected with CCE worth millions of naira were damaged by the flood.
“Experts have forecasted heavy rains and subsequent flood in 2023 so this workshop is to aid equip CCO at the LGAs to develop response plans to prevent CCE damage and to ensure that cold chain logistics and immunization services were not interrupted within the affected areas due to flood.
“Although, UNICEF has intervened to ensure that vaccine storage capacities are restored by supporting the state to rehabilitate the repairable refrigerators. Unfortunately, many of the refrigerators were damaged beyond repair by the flood.
This is what we are working towards avoiding as another rainy season is here and weather forecasts have predicted heavy rainfall for 2023 and the resultant flood,”he explained.
The UNICEF Vaccine Security and Logistics (VSL), Mr. Stanley Osum in his contribution said, “to achieve the aims of vaccination, you must be alert and knowledgeable of your responsibilities of vaccine management to ensure its potency.
One sure way of achieving this is to ensure the CCE are all functional and in good condition.’’
He urged the officers to report any dysfunctional CCE, assuring of the partners support in ensuring that vaccines are potent and given in a safe manner.
The CCO Orumba South LGA, Mr. Samuel Okoye and his counterpart from Idemili South LGA, Mrs. Adaobi Amobi, noted that the training would avail them of more knowledge on CCE management as regards to its protection and maintenance.
“Prior to the training, we do not have plans on how to manage contingencies especially as it has to do with our CCE, but this training has availed us the opportunity and importance of having effective plans on ground before disaster occurs,’’they said.
The duo acknowledged that the training has added to their knowledge on vaccine management as that cannot be done without proper and effective maintenance of the CCE which they had just been taught.
The event was marked with a special tribute and standing ovation to UNICEF as it celebrates 75 years of helping humanity, touching lives, and giving total and immense support to the health industry both in pandemic and emergency situations.