Supply chain Consultancy firm, Bisham, recently completed a major research project to address some of the problems increasingly associated with the cold chain distribution of modern vaccines. Working on behalf of PATH a non-profit organisation that seeks solutions to global health issues and the World Health Organisation (WHO), Bisham assessed and compared the status of current health logistics models with those operating within the food supply chain.
A broad range of interviews were conducted amongst organisations representing food processors, general third party logistics services providers (3PLs), supermarkets, software suppliers and academia. "Vaccine distribution has traditionally been successful using ambient stable product," said Derek Bell, managing director of Bisham. "However, many new vaccines require frozen or chilled temperature controlled supply chains which brings a new set of challenges particularly in poor countries."
Bisham's report highlighted the difficulties of establishing sophisticated temperature controlled supply chains in territories where the roads and utilities infrastructure as well as the standards of education, operating procedures and training fall short of the levels which have come to be taken for granted in the developed world.
Among its findings, the report concluded that in the developing world, individual Government health ministries have a key role to play in the evolution of the healthcare supply chain but they need considerable advice, practical help and resources. Local third party logistics carriers will, the report states, also be important, but they need the expertise, training and capital support that global 3PLs and large drug companies can offer, if they are to maximise their impact.
"Our research showed that many of the problems facing the cold chain distribution of healthcare products can be addressed by collaboration between the drugs suppliers and other movers of cold chain products for example by expanding established existing cold chains that may be in place to supply embassies and the tourism industry within a country," says Derek Bell.
PATH and the WHO will begin to implement many of Bisham's recommendations in a phased programme that begins this Autumn.
"We are proud to have been involved in this project," adds Derek Bell. "Health should be within reach of everyone and we hope that our input will help modern vaccines start to reach parts of the world where they are most needed."