World Immunisation Week took place from 24 to 30 April. “For Imperial Logistics, a leader in healthcare supply chain management, this is an important time to proudly reflect on the company’s contribution to saving lives, and to consider the challenges that lie ahead as more than 19 million children in the world remain unvaccinated or under-vaccinated,” says Dr Iain Barton, Imperial Logistics group executive: healthcare.
Celebrated annually in the last week of April, World Immunisation Week promotes the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunisation is widely recognised as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions worldwide.
Barton reveals that Imperial delivers approximately 44 million USD worth of cold chain products – including vaccines – annually. “This represents over 15 000 orders for one million products.” The key immunisation role players that have partnered with Imperial include Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
“Recognising our extensive logistics experience in developing countries, Gavi contracted us to conduct a work-study in Kenya to assess the in-country supply chain for temperature sensitive medicines like vaccines,” he expands. “This specific study was focused on benchmarking private sector supply chain practices against the public health supply chain practices, while building on our previous studies and findings.”
Imperial was also part of the Private Sector Working Group tasked by Gavi, the WHO and UNICEF to review effective vaccine management standards, and provided valuable input on private sector best practices and innovation, Barton notes. Most recently, the company was awarded the tender for Gavi’s “Cold Chain Equipment Maintenance Services & Marketplace Feasibility Study”. This project entailed producing a series of comprehensive guidance documents to assist in country managers of the WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) to make effective decisions on procuring and maintaining cold chain equipment. “Imperial had the opportunity with this significant undertaking to make a real impact on the WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation,” Barton stresses. “A major factor in making sure that medicines are safe and effective is storing them properly. In the case of vaccines and certain other medicines, this means keeping them refrigerated at a specific temperature, and maintaining the cold chain, until they are ready for use. Selecting the right cold chain equipment, and ensuring that it is properly maintained, is therefore critical for the success of immunisation programmes.”
As a member of the WHO’s TechNet-21 network, Imperial works with the organisation and its partners to strengthen immunisation services globally. TechNet-21 is a network of immunisation professionals from around the world. The goal of the network is to bolster immunisation efforts by sharing experiences, coordinating activities, and helping to formulate optimal policies.
Imperial’s contribution to global immunisation efforts is further reflected in the company’s membership of RX-360 and Logivac: Benin. “RX-360 is an international supply chain consortium that aims to improve healthcare delivery and ensure patient safety by sharing information and developing processes to improve the integrity of the healthcare supply chain and the quality of materials within the supply chain. As a member of Logivac: Benin, Imperial is providing technical support to increase the capacity and skills of health supply managers in sub-Saharan Africa,” Barton explains.
“We see ourselves as more than a logistics supplier. Our focus is on being a partner in the healthcare supply chain, with flexible solutions to ensure that essential medicines and vaccines are available, when and where they are needed, to safely and effectively treat patients and save lives,” he concludes.