As part of its support initiatives for the Tamil Nadu government’s ongoing Covid vaccination programme, after being chosen as the nodal club in this endeavour, RC Madras, RID 3232, donated a slew of cold chain logistic facilities worth $150,000 (over ₹1.1 crore) to the State Department of Public Health and Hygiene.
The facilities include two14-feet-long refrigerated trucks with a total capacity to transport 44 lakh doses from the central vaccine storage facility to the zonal vaccine stores; two 8-feet refrigerated trucks that can transport 20 lakh doses from the zonal stores to the district stores; 15 ice-lined refrigerators that can store 10 lakh doses of vaccines in the district stores; five deep freezers; and 1,000 vaccine carriers (box type) that can be used to vaccinate up to 30 lakh people each time.
RIDE A S Venkatesh presented the keys of the cold chain facilities to the TN health secretary J Radhakrishnan in the presence of state public health director Dr T S Selvavinayagam, club president Kapil Chitale, secretary P B Prasad, project chair Dr Gautamadas Udupi, co-chair A M Vishwanathan, special projects director S Balakrishna and medical officials. The hand-over ceremony was held at the Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital, Omandurar Estate.
Speaking on the occasion, Venkatesh said, “all the 35,000-plus Rotarians in Tamil Nadu are ready to provide all necessary help, and donate equipment to the government to meet the complete needs of the cold chain infrastructure and other facilities for vaccinating the people in the fight against this pandemic.”
Over the last 35 years, the 92-year-old club has taken the lead in polio eradication in this part of the world; and now it is providing delivery trucks and vaccine carriers for the “last mile reach to inoculate every single people of the state,” he added.
Venkatesh gave citations to five major sponsors — Cookson India, SRF, Vinayaka Missions Hospital and Research, Godrej Boyce and RC Madhavaram – and 15 smaller sponsors including club members and RC Chennai IT City.
Along with polio, once again in 1995, Rotary helped us in our hepatitis-B vaccination drive and now it is filling the infrastructure gaps, especially in ensuring cold chain networks.
J Radhakrishnan, TN Health Secretary.
Club president Chitale said that the club will be launching a mobile vaccine unit (MVU) in collaboration with the Apollo Hospitals to provide vaccination to people in remote hamlets and areas where there is no primary health centre or any medical facilities. The club will also join hands with the Sundaram Medical Foundation to roll out vaccine-related programmes such as creating awareness on vaccination.
The Covid trucks were custom-built so that its interiors can maintain the required constant temperature in the range of 2–8 degree Celsius to ensure the vaccine’s potency, said Dr Gautamadas speaking to Rotary News.
Referring to the Union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s statement that the GoI is expected to receive 400–500 million vaccine doses to cover around 20–25 crore people by July 2021, the project chairman said the Centre has directed states to make a robust plan for vaccine storage and distribution by Oct 15. The task of securing ‘end-to-end connectivity’ — from the time the vaccine is received from the manufacturer at the central vaccine store, Chennai, till it is received at the point of administration in cities, towns and villages — and ensuring that nothing goes wrong before the shot is administered is very important. Only this will ensure the success of the vaccine programme, he said.
A big ‘thank you’
Recalling the eventful relationship with Rotary since 1985 when the state had partnered with it for the Pulse Polio campaign, Radhakrishnan expressed a ‘big thank you’ for all the health-related service extended by Rotary clubs in Tamil Nadu. “Along with polio, once again in 1995, Rotary helped us in our hepatitis-B vaccination drive and now it is filling the infrastructure gaps, especially in ensuring cold chain networks,” he said.