Setting the stage
We're researching an integrated supply chain for vaccines and other products. (See the full-sized figure for details.)
Tunisia’s immunization program is considered one of the most successful in the region. Yet, the logistical challenges of introducing new and expensive vaccines are placing significant pressure on the existing supply chain system design. To ensure the program’s continued success as the vaccine landscape changes, the Tunisia Ministry of Health and project Optimize, a collaboration between the World Health Organization and PATH, are demonstrating the benefits of new supply chain solutions.
Our activities in Tunisia are as follows:
- Implementation of a streamlined and integrated supply chain by removing inefficient steps that vaccines go through before reaching their final destination, creating an integrated supply chain system for all vaccines, drugs, and temperature-sensitive products by regrouping them into a single cold storage and delivery chain.
- Demonstration of a “net-zero energy” supply chain by improving energy efficiency and using solar panels to offset energy consumption for the storage and transport of vaccines, drugs, and temperature-sensitive products.
- Implementation of a logistics management information system to support the supply chain concept described above by replacing a paper-based system with a networked information system. This will enable each level of the supply system to have real-time information on vaccine availability, inventory, and vaccine expiration dates and will allow the tracking of historical vaccine distribution patterns to improve forecasting.
Benefits to the country and region
The Minister of Health expresses his support for the collaboration and stresses the importance of integrating supply chains and renewable energy.
The supply chain system solutions being explored by the Ministry of Health with the support of Optimize will be tested in two demonstration areas of Tunisia: Kasserine and Sousse. We expect that the proposed model will prepare the country for introducing larger-volume, higher-cost vaccines and pharmaceuticals and provide evidence beyond Tunisia for other countries wishing to strengthen their systems. The ultimate vision is that a single streamlined and integrated health supply chain in Tunisia with a modernized health information system will bring efficiencies in procurement, supply, storage, distribution, stock management, and quality of services at lower overall costs to the system. In addition, the lower segment of the supply chain would use renewable energy sources for health products that require cold chain delivery and storage. In other words, all the energy requirements for regional and district stores and the transportation of health products to health centers would be offset by the free energy supplied by the sun.
Illustration and Photo: World Health Organization/Patrick Lydon.