Temperature monitoring helps evaluate the efficiency of the supply chain through to delivery of the vaccines.
Kazungula District in the Southern
Province of Zambia has 21 Rural Health Centres
(RHCs), and a central pharmacy based in Livingstone that
keeps vaccine stock. The RHCs are up to 85km away from the
pharmacy, with three at a distance of up to 290km.
The roads to the Rural Health Centres are often unsurfaced and this
leads to increased journey times. Moreover, typically staff rely on
infrequent public transport or taxis to get to Livingstone. Once
the vaccines are collected, they travel in an ice-pack
lined box for up to 10 hours to get back to the RHC where
they are stored in a vaccine fridge with temperatures checked twice
daily. A few times a month the vaccines are taken out further to
outposts on immunisation days in the ice-pack lined box and then
any unused stock is returned.
It is therefore clear that maintaining the cold chain is
a challenge for health workers, threatening the effectiveness of
the vaccines. WHO
recommendations state that vaccines should be kept within a
range of +2 to +8°C during storage and transport and until the
point of administration.
Camillo Lamanna, a UK-based doctor, is a
co-founder of Tessellate, which is running a pilot
Project in the region to increase efficiency in the supply
chain, therefore increasing immunization rates and
reducing stock wastage. The Project is being funded by
D-Prize, a global social entrepreneurship organization.
The Project began with an initial 3 month pilot to create an
online stock tracking/inventory system for vaccine supplies,
aiming to reach a total of 15,000 children. As
part of this pilot, Gemini Data Loggers supported the Project with
the supply of 21 Tinytag Talk 2
loggers, one for each RHC. The loggers are
collected from the central pharmacy and will record the vaccine
temperatures during the journey to the RHC, the temperatures in the
vaccine fridges, and those on the outreach immunisation
Once this is complete, a report will be submitted to the
Ministry of Health. If the data shows that the vaccines are at risk
of being out of range for too long on the transport legs or on the
outreach days, Camillo hopes to make a case to the Ministry of
Health for a dedicated vehicle for transporting
vaccines in Kazungula district and further investment in
equipment to preserve the integrity of the cold
chain on the outreach days.
Camillo comments, "Gemini recommended the Talk 2 data loggers as
they have been used with great success by the WHO for many years
for this type of monitoring. The recorded data will help provide a
clear picture of conditions throughout the supply chain, and will
provide a more complete picture than the twice daily manual
readings in the fridges at the RHCs."