ADB approves $10m grant to help Maldives strengthen distribution of COVID-19 vaccines
The project will construct a central cold storage facility in Hulhumalé that is climate-resilient and powered by renewable energy, replacing the temporary facility in Malé.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $10 million grant under its Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility to help Maldives upgrade storage facilities and strengthen the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
"Maldives has attained early success with its COVID-19 vaccination program in 2021. ADB's support aims to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the ongoing booster and pediatric COVID-19 vaccination as well as routine immunization," said ADB Health Specialist for South Asia Dai-Ling Chen. "This project will fill gaps in the vaccination system by enhancing vaccine cold storage, delivery, monitoring and management capacity of the country."
Through the government's Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), more than 70% of Maldives' population has received the first two COVID-19 vaccine doses while nearly 30% has received at least one booster shot as of mid-September. Booster vaccination is ongoing and has recently been extended to cover people aged 12–49. The government is also planning to expand initial two-dose vaccination to 5–11 year-olds starting September.
The project will construct a central cold storage facility in Hulhumalé that is climate-resilient and powered by renewable energy, replacing the temporary facility in Malé. This comes with adequate space to properly store vaccines, medical supplies, and laboratory equipment. There will be dedicated areas for repairing and maintaining cold chain equipment, managing vaccine waste, and hosting a backup server for national immunization data.
To improve the distribution of vaccines and medical goods across Maldives, the project will provide 7 speed boats (1 each for the 6 regions and 1 for the Greater Malé area), 2 refrigerated trucks, and 2 vans for immunization services in the Greater Malé area.
ADB's financing will promote the digitalization of vaccine information management by providing equipment to set up a national health data center and mobile devices for public health staff collecting data at all health centers. This will help link the national health networks to all islands, atolls, and the Greater Malé area.
The project will help build the human resource capacity of the EPI, national health data center, and the biomedical service unit to effectively manage COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization programs. Newly hired staff of the Ministry of Health will receive specialized training while current EPI staff and other health care workers involved in immunization initiatives will be trained on vaccination and disease control.
ADB has earlier supported Maldives' COVID-19 response, including through a $50 million COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program for the government's budgetary needs in mitigating the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, two grants with a total value of $1.5 million under the Asia Pacific Disaster Relief Fund to procure emergency medical goods and supplies, and a $2 million technical assistance under the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific for developing long-term pandemic response and COVID-19 vaccination plans.