For Anessa Philip Myers, the district nurse responsible for vaccination at the Rio Claro health center, the new refrigerators have been crucial in ensuring better access to vaccines in remote areas, particularly as many patients find it difficult to visit the center, thus requiring home visits. Ensuring a ready supply of vaccines at the local health center supports more home visits, which are tricky to arrange if they rely on vaccines that must be transported from a regional supply center.
The installation, which was supported by PAHO/WHO, as well as training on how to use the refrigerators, was “pretty easy,” Myers said. “We don’t have to worry about the temperature dropping below two or going above eight degrees. You feel confident knowing you have a fridge that is reliable and dependable.”
Now, even when there has been a power cut, “when a patient visits the health center, they know there will be a vaccine available.”
“The solar powered refrigerator has revolutionized our immunization program in these areas of Trinidad,” Nurse Sookchand added.
The solar-powered refrigeration systems, which come with a 10-year warranty, are a crucial part of ensuring the continuity of routine immunization efforts in remote environments and areas more vulnerable to natural disasters.
As well as Trinidad and Tobago, 10 Caribbean countries have benefitted from the initiative, including Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. Through its Revolving Funds, PAHO coordinated the procurement, installation, training and delivery of a total of 150 units in 75 health centers.
“As a parent, you want to make sure that your child receives everything they can so they can be healthy and strong,” added Claudia.
“Vaccines provide protection for you and that’s what’s important.”