ADB Grant to Boost Maldives’ Booster and Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccination Program
27 September 2022
A $10 million grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility will help Maldives scale up the continuity of its vaccination program, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Maldives: Responsive COVID-19 Vaccination for Recovery Project was approved on 14 September 2022 under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, and signed on 27 September 2022. The grant will provide the following support:
- Upgrade storage facilities. The project will improve Maldives’ vaccine cold storage and cold chain delivery capacity by constructing a central cold storage facility in Hulhumalé that is climate-resilient and powered by renewable energy, replacing the temporary facility in Malé.
- Improve the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, by providing seven speed boats (one each for the six regions of the country and one for the Greater Malé area); two refrigerated trucks for vaccine and medical goods distribution; and two vans for immunization services in the Greater Malé area.
- Promote the digitalization of vaccine information management. This will enable timely and efficient planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the COVID-19 vaccination program and routine immunization as a whole.
- 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.
“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.
The grant from ADB will help fill the gaps in Maldives’ booster vaccination where major challenges remain, despite the EPI’s early success with its COVID-19 vaccination program in 2021. These challenges include insufficient capacity for cold chain storage with proper temperature monitoring; inefficient vaccine delivery due to the unavailability of land and sea vehicles, and unreliable ferry services; lack of adequate quality control checks of vaccine supplies; inefficiencies in vaccine inventory management and reporting; overstretched human resources in both the national immunization program and public health units across the country; and inadequate training of frontline health workers on the rollout of vaccines, stated the COVID-19 vaccine post-introduction evaluation conducted by the country's Ministry of Health with support of the World Health Organization in December 2021.
Continuing to strengthen Maldives' booster vaccination, will contribute toward reducing cross-border health risks. ADB aims to help Maldives maintain immunization coverage at more than 95% of the eligible population.
ADB has been supporting 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.