How Controlant is ensuring safe vaccine delivery through Africa, in partnership with Global Good

Pharmaceuticals, Cold chain management

In 2015, there were 134,200 estimated deaths from measles alone, or one death every 15 hours. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measles is one of the leading causes of child deaths, and one of many diseases that is entirely avoidable through vaccinations. According to UNICEF, more than 30 million children are unimmunized either because vaccines are unavailable, because health services are poorly provided or inaccessible, or because families are uninformed or misinformed about when and why to bring their children for immunization. Vaccine waste in developing areas can reach up to 50 percent due to rough environmental conditions and lacking infrastructure. In some areas, vaccines travel for days without access to electricity and can easily spoil if external temperatures are high. 

New vaccine refrigeration technology, including the MetaFridge, which has been developed in conjunction with Global Good, Controlant, and AUCMA, and real-time vaccine supply chain technology, which has been developed in conjunction with Dulas and Controlant, are helping to ensure the secure delivery of vaccines to remote areas around the globe and to promote public health and safety.

The complex vaccine supply chain

The vaccine supply chain is complex, as most vaccines must be stored and transported between 2°C and 8°C. Deviations beyond this range can damage products and make them unusable. In the best scenario, temperature deviations that venture beyond these ranges are known, leading to supply shortages and wasted vaccine products and investments. At worst, temperature deviations are never discovered, making vaccines ineffective and potentially unsafe for human consumption. Less patients may receive vaccines, and some have been administered ineffective vaccines without knowing it. Both scenarios pose 

Special vaccine storage units for the transport and storage of products, including refrigeration units within hospitals and health clinics, are a critical part of the vaccine supply chain. The integrity of these immunizations rely on maintaining strict temperature control throughout transit and storage. Traditionally, cooling units and vaccine fridges fail due to supply chain breakdowns, including at handoff points, due to electricity failures, and a lack of alarms that can notify stakeholders that temperature deviations are occurring, to enable proactive, corrective action to be taken.

Most temperature monitoring solutions designed for medicines and vaccines do not provide temperature data until the end of a shipment, after an environmental deviation has occurred, if at all. By this time, products may have spoiled. In the case of vaccines, there is often no visual indication that they are no longer effective. 

In order to remain effective, vaccines must be maintained at safe temperatures from the moment they are manufactured until they are delivered to the children and adults who need them.  

Why real-time visibility is mission-critical

Traditionally, there has been little visibility over vaccines traveling to developing, emergency-affected, and remote areas of the world. Often, temperature monitoring has been manual, if existent at all. Moreover, gaining access to time, temperature, and location data as vaccines move through the supply chain and towards their intended destination has posed substantial challenges.

Some vaccine storage and transport products can monitor temperatures and provide a report of environmental conditions while they are in transport or at rest inside a hospital or health clinic. However, that information often must be manually retrieved from a cooling unit. In many Data traditionally has not been available as it occurs so that proactive and corrective action can be taken if a temperature deviation starts to occur.

Knowing when and where a temperature deviation occurs as it happens can enable stakeholders to proactively intervene before vaccines degrade and become unusable. If a product is ruined because a deviation was not caught in time, then quality professionals and health clinic staff can have peace of mind that those supplies are not administered to patients. This results not only in less product waste, but also increases the awareness of how many patients have received an effective vaccine. 

Getting access to time, temperature, and location data sheds light on where the highest risks are occurring so that preventive and corrective action can be taken. Real-time monitoring inside clinics can help healthcare staff to immediately respond to temperature deviations to prevent vaccine degradation and product loss.

With the right data and analytics, health workers are also empowered to accurately inform ministries of health with the facts needed to continuously improve cold chain performance in developing areas.

Continuous monitoring, reporting, and alerts

In partnership with Global Good and Dulas, Controlant’s technology is facilitating the safe transport of vaccines to all areas of the world, and providing safe and dependable vaccine storage within a wide range of clinic and hospital settings.

Dulas’s Vaccine Guard employs real-time temperature monitoring technology to track the environmental conditions and location of vaccines while in transport and in storage. 

MetaFridge vaccine refrigerators have been developed in partnership with Global Good to provide a strong and dependable link in the vaccine cold chain. They are robust enough to thrive in the most challenging environments, operating with high efficiency and offering design features that are indispensable even in the most advanced hospitals. Controlant’s real-time environmental monitoring technology is used within the fridge to monitor and ensure vaccine integrity. 

The new MetaFridge was especially developed to keep consistent quality of vaccines and preventing waste in the delicate distribution within the vaccine supply chain in Africa. Data is automatically captured and can be sent to the cloud to view on demand through a web-based software platform. The time, temperature, and location data can be used to ensure that vaccines and medicines safely and securely reach their destination.

Making a global impact

To date, Controlant’s technology is facilitating the delivery and storage of vaccines throughout Yemen and Africa. Approximately 500 MetaFridge refrigeration units have been installed in key sub-Saharan African markets, procured by UNICEF in a program financed by Gavi — a global Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Watch a video of Bill Gates, Jenny Hu, and Morgan Fowler demonstrating the technology that keep vaccines effective for longer and enable more children within in remote regions of the world to receive their vaccinations. 

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