In Saint-Louis Region, Senegal, diseases which claim the health and lives of children under the age of five are a major public health issue. However, the majority of these deaths, in particular those from measles, can be prevented by vaccines; and the critical polio vaccine can prevent disabilities in these children as well.
There’s no question the vaccination program was very successful in Saint-Louis Region. However, it was difficult to find available space to store the vaccines in the existing vaccine storage refrigerators. In addition, in order to reduce vaccine wastage, new, more expensive vaccines are now being packaged with fewer doses per vial, leading to both transportation and storage needs doubling. In order to get vaccine supplies for their clinic from the health districts, some nurses based in villages had to travel for an entire day, sometimes by moped. Unfortunately, while the nurses traveled, their health centres had to be closed. The long travel times also posed a risk to the quality of vaccines, given that specific temperatures could not always be guaranteed during transport.
In response to these challenges, and with the support of Project Optimize, collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO), PATH and the Ministry of Health and Prevention, a mobile warehouse was set up to service more than 110 vaccination units in the region every month. The moving warehouse supplies the required quantity of vaccines and supplies as well as other health products for the prevention of malaria and tuberculosis, among others, which are distributed free of charge through the health centre.
The regular delivery of these products should prevent supply shortages. It should also save time and money, thanks to improved monitoring and quality of the delivery service versus the pick-up system.
The moving warehouse improves the way logistics information is handled as well; it registers the number of vaccines distributed to each health post, along with their existing stock, and makes that information available in real-time, on the web. This is an outstanding improvement which allows for a far more efficient management of vaccine stocks, a better prediction of needs and, as a consequence, reduces vaccine wastage as well.
Eventually it is hoped that the evaluation of the current approach will encourage the health authorities to expand the moving warehouse to also handle the supply of essential drugs that are sold to the people at subsidized prices.
As the manager of the vaccination program in Saint-Louis Region, I’m thrilled with this new development. Whereas in the past there have been many challenges, the moving warehouse makes the management of the transport circuit and the delivery of drugs and vaccines much easier. Moreover, the innovative approach used in this project will allow us to adapt to the constantly changing future needs.
While this is a pilot project and still in its early phases, the success of the first moving warehouse deliveries in February and March of 2011 make us hopeful for the project’s overall success. This success is important not just for us in St. Louis, but also for the future of the Expanded Program on Immunization in Senegal as a whole, allowing us to deliver quality products of assured quality to a larger population- saving more lives, especially those of children.
Source: Gates Foundation