Friday, 30 October 2015

Robust Supply Chains: Key enablers of life saving vaccines

Vaccines have been widely recognised as the backbone of the public health system. They help creating the first line of defence against contagious diseases, are highly cost effective and supposed to be available at every health facility in the world, to save lives.

But the vaccines are powerless if we can’t deliver them safely and efficiently to those who need them the most. This is where the importance of having a robust and efficient supply chain comes into play.
Below is a picture, illustrating some important clues to a strong immunization supply chain system.

Notice the cooler, the vaccine worker is carrying, which helps keeping the vaccines at just the right temperature after a long journey from the manufacturer to the health post. Also you can notice the health worker carrying her ledger to track the number of vaccines given and vials consumed. As defined by Vaccines Work, Supply chains are the human resources, technologies, and systems required to get vaccines safely and efficiently from the point of manufacture to the point of immunization without compromising potency or availability.

Present Status of Immunization Supply Chains

We have presently entered a new era for immunization. An era where diseases like cervical cancer, rotavirus diarrhoea and pneumonia can be prevented by using vaccines and the vaccines are available even at the poorest countries. And dozens of other vaccines targeted for different diseases is currently under the development pipeline waiting to address some of the world’s biggest health challenges. The growth is exciting but it adds pressure to the already stressed immunization supply chain.

The primary reason of the overtly stressed immunization supply chain is that these supply chains were designed nearly about 30 years ago, when immunization schedules were smaller and simpler, vaccines were less expensive, and immunization was primarily aimed at infants. But today, vaccines protect against twice as many diseases and also are administered to a much broader age group.

To manage today’s immunization programs, countries are starting to recognize the need to build stronger and much more efficient supply chains to meet the demand.

A peek at the next generation supply chain
  • According to Gavi’s immunization supply chain strategy (2014), the next generation supply chain should be built on five fundamentals:
  • Designed to optimize safety, reliability, and efficiency of immunization programs.
  •  Led by competent, professionally trained supply chain managers.
  • Use a continuous improvement approach for assessing, planning, and implementing supply chain changes over time.
  • Should consider collected data for decision making.
  • Should use, monitor, and maintain high-quality cooling equipment to ensure proper temperatures along the supply chain.

Efficient supply chains can have a significant effect on immunization programs, especially in low resource settings. While several countries are piloting new supply chain solutions, more political leadership is required before major, systematic changes can be made and scaled up.

Policies supporting the five fundamentals would bring about a major change for the better. By endorsing such initiatives we would be helping achieve the objectives of vaccines that is to improve health and save lives around the world.
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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Launch of State-level Disease Burden Initiative

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

India has been going through a major epidemiological transition over the past 25 years. The burden of premature death and health loss due to NCDs and non-infectious conditions remains unacceptably high. The extent of this burden is expected to vary appreciably across the various population groups and states in India. The national level estimates fail to provide enough insights and data to contemplate a targeted action. Hence a sub national, region specific estimation of disease burden is essential for India in order to develop an informed health system response to improve the population’s health.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India have launched a collaborative initiative on state level disease estimation in India. This effort would extensively employ the robust methods of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, developed by a global network of researchers coordinated by IHME. This will help in generating rigorous estimates of all major drivers of health loss at the state level in India. This would also include the state-of-the-art GBD interactive visualisation tools which would help bring to life the initiative’s findings.

India has a vast landscape with tremendous regional health variations. Well researched estimations can enable the government to adopt a more targeted approach and help decide what needs to be done where, for whom and when. As rightly identified by Prof.Lalit Dandona, who will serve as the Director of the joint initiative, many Indian states are bigger than most countries in the world. Planning effective health improvements for one sixth of the world’s population without taking into consideration the variation in disease burden trends across the states cannot yield optimal outcomes. This collaborative effort of the state level disease burden initiative, is a unique opportunity that would help generate better evidence for the disease trend variation across India and also help developing useful data generation systems to aid in effective health planning on an ongoing basis at local levels in India.

This initiative would work closely with a network of academic partners across India, and primarily with policy makers at the national and state level for guidance and utilization of the findings to improve health programs and planning.

The contribution of risk factors such as high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, and that of poor diet and alcohol use, to health loss has doubled in India over the past two decades, and air pollution and tobacco smoking continue to be major contributors to health loss. However, the extent of these risk factors varies considerably across the states of India. The efforts of the State-level Disease Burden Initiative would help refine the understanding of these variations across India, which would in turn form appropriate strategies for the different states of Indiaas well as aid in the improvement of systems to produce these estimates on an ongoing basis to monitor changing trends at the local levels.  
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About Me

Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

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