Closing the Cold Chain Equipment Gap in Immunisation Programs

Cold Chain IQ

Cold Chain Annual Expenditure is Expected to Increase to Address Cold Chain Equipment Gaps in Immunisation Programs

Recent analysis of the vaccine cold chain equipment market conducted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has found that whilst total procurement and technology opportunities can help to reduce the total cold chain expenditure, an incremental $60 million in annual expenditure is required to address current cold chain equipment gaps.

The ‘cold chain’ is the system of transporting and storing vaccines within the safe temperature range of 2°C to 8°C. As deviations in temperature during storage and distribution can affect the potency and efficacy of vaccine, maintaining the vaccine cold chain from manufacturer to patient is crucial for ensuring safety and compliance.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation looked at the market for vaccine cold chain equipment , in particular refrigerators and freezers. The aims of the foundation were to assess current cold chain equipment challenges and market potential. The analysis was based on extensive interviews with various stakeholders within the industry.

Raja Rao from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote in a recent article for the Op.ti.mize newsletter : "The analysis found that many GAVI Alliance countries lack the functional cold chain equipment they require, either because they do not possess the refrigerators and freezers they need, or because the equipment they do have does not function correctly." In turn bottlenecks are being creeated at both national and regional levels and are impacting routine immunisation coverage targets in GAVI countries.

The report also found that:

  • The procurement and funding for cold chain equipment is highly fragmented
  • A considerable increase in the spending on cold chain equipment is required to maximise the impact of global investment in immunisation programs
  • There is no current consensus with regards to the optimal characteristics for innovative cold chain technologies or a clear path to scale up

An effective and efficient vaccine cold chain with the right infrastructure, technologies and personnel is essential for a successful immunisation programme. This requires investment in increasing cold chain storage capacity, innovative technologies and training.

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