Bangkok, 4 February 2022 – On behalf of the Federal Government of Germany, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has officially handed over ultra-cold temperature freezers for COVID-19 vaccine storage and other equipment to Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health at the Department of Disease Control. This will enable health authorities to boost the vaccination rollout among vulnerable groups as well as populations at risk in the border area.
The four ultra-cold temperature freezers and 51,000 sets of low dead-space syringes and needles were handed over to Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, Director-General, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand under the Project “Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies” during a ceremony.
The delivery of these freezers will enable the health authorities to effectively store Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which must be kept at ultra-low temperatures of up to minus 70 degrees Celsius, while the medical equipment will enable public health professionals to speed up the vaccination rollout in response to the ongoing pandemic.
“No one is safe, until everyone is. The pandemic can only be overcome if it is brought under control all over the world. I am glad that we can contribute to Thailand’s vaccination efforts with the donation of ultra-cold temperature freezers, needles and other medical equipment. The aim is to benefit, in particular, vulnerable groups including the population at risk along the border. The programme is part of Germany’s health cooperation with ASEAN. The donation marks another important step in our long-standing partnership with Thailand as we celebrate 160 years of Thai-German relations in 2022. Last year, Germany supported Thailand – the first EU member state to do so – with the donation of vaccines as well as medicines for COVID-19 patients,” said Mr. Hans-Ulrich Suedbeck, Deputy Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Thailand.
“We believe that global equitable, fair and affordable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics while protecting those most at-risk is the way to save lives. Thus, we are focusing on international cooperation and multilateral solutions like the COVAX program to overcome the pandemic and its impact on the livelihoods of millions of people. The fight against the pandemic is one priority of Germany’s G7 Presidency.” Mr. Suedbeck added.
In his welcome and introductory remarks Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, Director-General, Department of Disease Control, said: “The items provided by the Project, namely the ultra-low temperature freezers, low dead-space syringes, and needles are greatly appreciated as they contribute to our COVID-19 vaccination programme in the country.” Thailand plans to buy at least 120 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for use as booster shots and to deal with variants of the virus in 2022.
The handover is a part of the implementation of the Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies project. It aims to emphasise the need to support vulnerable groups in selected COVID-19 hotspot areas in ASEAN to respond to the ongoing pandemic. The equipment handover also demonstrates the ASEAN-German commitment to strengthen partnerships in health sector cooperation in the region and particularly Thailand as a Member State of ASEAN.
The project provides key support for (1) the provision of medical supplies and equipment for vulnerable groups in selected COVID-19 hotspot areas in the ASEAN region; (2) contributes to regional coordination of work in the implementation of public health emergency preparedness and response initiatives in the region, including the development of Cross Border Contact Tracing and Rapid Outbreak Investigation Protocol, the ASEAN Health Protocol in Public Places for Pandemic Preventive Measures (Health Protocol), and the ASEAN Capacity Needs Assessment for COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) in collaboration with the Office of International Cooperation, Department of Disease Control, Thai Ministry of Public Health; as well as (3) the development of future project proposals to integrate public health emergency preparedness and response into longer-term ASEAN community-building efforts.
The Project “Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies” is a part of the immediate COVID-19 support programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).