Mobile phone masts support vaccine supply chain

7 December 2016

Innovative partnerships between private sector companies, voluntary organisations and governments can help solve global challenges and provide access to healthcare and food.

A report by SCM World and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’sMobilising the supply chain community to solve global challenges: Engaging with the private sector, highlighted the benefits of cross sector partnerships.

The report cited how vaccine distribution in Ghana, Zimbabwe and India proved to be a perfect example of how such partnerships could work.

In this case not-for-profit organisation Energize the Chain worked to build links between telecommunications providers, public sector ministries of health and bridging organisations such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).

The partnership made use of assets and infrastructure not normally related to healthcare such mobile phone masts to provide vaccines for rural communities.

Excess electricity from masts powered the refrigeration units needed to store vaccines that require temperatures between 2°C and 8°C.

And vaccines were even stored within the towers themselves.

“The towers typically have strong security, which makes them effective distribution nodes along the last-mile vaccine supply chain,” said the report.

Seventy per cent of respondents to a survey believed supply chains could play a meaningful role in tackling global challenges, including universal access to healthcare, worldwide distribution of food and environmental sustainability.

SCM World vice president of research and joint author of the report Barry Blake said: “No single group holds all the answers. Tackling such global challenges requires cross-sector partnerships, where each groups’ key capabilities are used to create shared value. By doing this, initiatives can become self-sustaining and provide real economic and societal benefit for all involved.”

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