Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project Optimize: Rethinking the vaccine supply chain

Project Optimize is a joint project by PATH and World Health Organization to develop a common vision for the future of immunization supply systems and logistics. It seeks to use technology and innovative methods to help define the ideal characteristics and specifications for health products and creating a vaccine supply chain that is flexible and robust enough to handle an increasingly large and costly portfolio of vaccines. Its not about just creating safe and effective vaccines. Its about getting the vaccines to be at the right place and the at right time and in the right condition. New vaccines are arriving at a rapid pace and costs 100 times more than the traditional ones. Therefore innovations are required to protect these vaccines and reduce wastage. The goal of Project Optimize is to make sure the vaccine supply chain can meet these changing needs. PATH and WHO will work directly with countries to identify problems and test solutions that could have a global application.

Some of the problems with logistics associated with vaccines are

- storage, transport and
- temperature

The passively cooled carts used to deliver produce to European supermarkets could be used to move vaccines from one storage location to another in developing countries. The carts maintain consistent temperatures, are capable of carrying a significantly higher volume than traditional vaccine cold boxes, and could save considerable expense in both the short and the long term.

Power and energy are major issues in developing countries. Battery-free solar refrigerators, for example, could lead to major breakthroughs in the reliability and efficiency of refrigeration systems at health centers and clinics.

Developing Innovative Health Supply Chain Solutions in Tunisia

The following activities are being done for this purpose in Tunisia:

1. Implementation of a streamlined and integrated supply chain by removing inefficient steps that vaccines go through before reaching their final destination, creating an integrated supply chain system for all vaccines, drugs, and temperature-sensitive products by regrouping them into a single cold storage and delivery chain.

2. Demonstration of a “net-zero energy” supply chain by improving energy efficiency and using solar panels to offset energy consumption for the storage and transport of vaccines, drugs, and temperature-sensitive products.

3. Implementation of a logistics management information system to support the supply chain concept described above by replacing a paper-based system with a networked information system. This will enable each level of the supply system to have real-time information on vaccine availability, inventory, and vaccine expiration dates and will allow the tracking of historical vaccine distribution patterns to improve forecasting.




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