TechNet-21 - Forum

This forum provides a place for members to ask questions, share experiences, coordinate activities, and discuss recent developments in immunization.
  1. Optimize.WHO
  2. Supply chain and logistics
  3. Thursday, 26 September 2013
by Patrick Lydon, WHO, and Prashant Yadav, University of Michigan Project Optimize has recently published a document that examines the benefits, challenges, and rationale for integrating vaccine supply chains with the supply chains of other health commodities. It provides agencies, donors, decision-makers, and partners with a brief overview of supply chain integration and lessons learned during Optimize demonstration activities in Senegal and Tunisia. For historical reasons, most disease control programs in low- and middle-income countries, including immunization programs, manage and operate independent supply chain systems. However, many of these programs are under increasing pressures to move larger volumes of higher-value products from the national to service-delivery levels. Immunization supply chains in particular will require significant investments before they will be ready to handle increased volume of new and more-bulky and -expensive vaccines. Without addressing these challenges, vaccine supply chain systems are likely to be a bottleneck to new vaccine introduction. As immunization supply chains struggle to meet current and upcoming challenges, the lines are being blurred between vaccine supply chains and those designed for other health commodities. Historically, vaccines were the only set of health products requiring a cold chain, and hence a vertical supply chain was justified. Today, a number of pharmaceutical products, such as some antiretrovirals and antibiotics, now require controlled temperature storage, which has led to new opportunities for supply chain integration between vaccines and other public health commodities. Supply chain integration is a major structural undertaking that can be very difficult but also very effective in the long term. By moving from vertically managed programs toward horizontally integrated systems, public health programs may be able to improve both efficiency and effectiveness as long as the right steps are taken. Potential benefits include: -Increased economies of scale using infrastructure, equipment, and human resources at full capacity and selling or relocating unneeded warehousing facilities, vehicles, and refrigerators to elsewhere in the health system. -Increased flexibility and adaptability to enable expansion of products and growth of the network through a clear, segmented framework of operations. -Improved efficiency through better use of existing resources, streamlined delivery routes, and specialization of supply chain professionals. -Improved performance of supply chains and disease control programs. For more information, refer to “Integrating the supply chains of vaccines and other health commodities.” This document is available on the PATH and World Health Organization websites.

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