WHO gears up for emergency vaccination campaign in the Philippines with UK support

November 2013

A donation of 16 solar-powered vaccine refrigerators from the United Kingdom (UK) will fill critical gaps in the implementation of an emergency vaccination campaign that is launching this week in the Philippines.

Almost 500 000 children need the vaccine, but the campaign is starting with those in the hardest-hit areas. The campaign will roll out more widely as resources permit.

Keeping vaccines cold in areas without electricity

À l’aéroport international de Mactan à Cebu, des logisticiens de l’OMS supervisent le chargement des réfrigérateurs pour vaccins à bord d’un avion des forces coréennes.
WHO/I. Hamam

Typhoon Haiyan left a trail of devastation in its wake and damaged power lines that could take up to 2 or 3 months to restore. This has left many hospitals and health facilities unable to function, including refrigeration for medicines and vaccines. One of the greatest challenges in conducting the campaign will be keeping the vaccines cold so they don’t lose their efficacy.

"Donations such as these fridges from the UK will play a major role in ensuring that the vaccines are successfully stored and transported to the areas that need them. In this way we can ensure that we are able to reach as many children as possible, especially those in the most affected areas," says WHO Representative for the Philippines Julie Hall.

Ensuring quick deployment

"Donations such as these fridges from the UK... ensure that we are able to reach as many children as possible, especially those in the most affected areas."

Julie Hall, WHO Representative for the Philippines

The fridges were transported from the UK to Mactan International Airport in Cebu City, a major hub for humanitarian relief supplies for the typhoon, on November 23. Less than 48 hours later, on November 25, WHO had facilitated their delivery on a Korean Air Force plane to Tacloban, where the immunization campaign was scheduled to launch the next day.

"A number of the fridges will be used immediately at the launch of the immunization campaign in Tacloban," says WHO logistician Michel Tomaszek, who received the fridges at Tacloban Airport and is arranging for their delivery to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, where they will be stocked with vaccines. "The remainder will be delivered to other areas, in agreement with the Department of Health, to allow for the expansion of the campaign in as many affected areas as possible."