Last week, UNICEF hosted a meeting where experts with a combined 1,000 years of practice in cold chain maintenance discussed some of the current challenges and opportunities related to cold chain maintenance and temperature monitoring at the country level. This blog highlights some of the key themes that came out of the meeting.
Ultimately, preparing for outbreaks begins long before the first case and must entail a strong routine immunization system that provides vaccinations to all target groups, regular communication and education of the public, regular upskilling of health workers, strong surveillance, prepositioning and stockpiling vaccines and appropriate medicines.
inSupply convened 30 county-level public health leaders from 10 counties and their national partners in Machakos, Kenya to launch the IMPACT Team Network approach for collaboratively solving supply chain problems through teamwork, data analysis, and continuous improvement.
Immunization supply chains managers should be thinking about how to use new technology and innovative ideas to deliver more product, faster, and at a lower cost. We aren’t looking for Amazon Prime and delivery in an hour (although that would be nice). What is needed, though, is a reliable and efficient supply chain system that guarantees that all children can be immunized.
Sometimes, simpler solutions like paper cards are more efficient and usable than technology – particularly where they are needed most and where mobile services, electricity, the internet, and computers are not reliably available. Also, often the paper cards – when their value is emphasized and understood – can “live on” longer than the ever-changing and limited archival storage of electronic systems. A combination of both can be very effective.
It takes commitment at all levels – from global, country and community levels to individual health workers and families – to ensure that vaccination works so that vaccines can work.
The economic case is compelling: returns on investment for every child vaccinated are huge. Every $1 spent on vaccines brings a 16-fold return on investment — this climbs to a return of $44 for every $1 spent if we look at all the extended benefits that vaccination brings.
Do we have anything to learn from the Cola supply chain? Certainly. Governments and others working to distribute health commodities can learn a lot from the private sector, which excels at finding innovative ways to reduce cost, improve efficiencies, plan effectively, create incentives, and motivate people.
Developing countries often face the unexpected: disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and political unrest. To sustain advances in their health systems while safeguarding communities, health staff and organizations need strategies that promote system resilience—the capacity to anticipate and respond to crises; maintain core functions when shocks strike; and reorganize when extreme conditions or circumstances arise.
Around the world, immature immunization and health supply chains continue to inhibit availability of a variety of health commodities—including vaccines, nutrition products, reproductive health supplies, and general medicines—required to meet the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. Public health supply chain leader and manager capacity must be strengthened if this situation is to improve.