Cold Chain and Logistics

© 2007-1788/Nesbit
A baby sleeps in his mother's lap in the Cacuaco health centre, about 18 kilometres from Luanda. UNICEF provides vaccines and vitamin A, immunization cards for children and women, and cold-chain and other equipment and supports immunization campaigns.

UNICEF supports national immunization programmes in several ways. One critical area is the cold chain and logistics (CCL) system, as vaccines are biological products that must be kept within a narrow temperature range, usually 2-8 degrees Centigrade (36-45º F). The cold chain refers to the storage and transport equipment that enables vaccine to be kept at this temperature from the point of manufacture to the point of use in an immunization session or a clinic.

The CCL system includes:(1) a management information system capable of collecting and reporting data; (2) a stock inventory control system to ensure proper management of all supplies;(3) storage and warehousing of adequate capacity and quality to ensure their integrity; (4) a distribution/maintenance system for efficient transport to every immunization session; and (5) sufficient number of trained personnel at every level, with adequate supervision.

CCL Taskforce
UNICEF has convened a CCL Taskforce of partners involved in immunization to enhance and coordinate the collective support provided to national governments. The CCL Taskforce Workshop held in New York from 2-4 November 2009 (PDF) sought to reach a consensus on the approach and key actions needed to address CCL needs over the next year or so. 

Workshop members adopted the vision, goals and outcomes articulated at the first CCL Taskforce meeting, (PDF) held in November 2007. The CCL Taskforce has established four subgroups to advance the work programme, viz. (1) Guidance, (2) Monitoring, (3) Advocacy, and (4) Integration. A Future Subgroup was added in 2010 to help in building the systems of the Future, with Project Optimize. The Monitoring Subgroup has been focussing on the data visualisation project; and the Integration Subgroup has prepared a concept paper.

At the 2010 TechNet21 Consultation, which was held in Kuala Lumpur from 30 November to 2 December 2010, participants discussed current concerns and advances in immunization and logisitcs. At the workshop, the Guidance Subgroup presented a google website that mapped CCL system tasks and provided the basis for further discussion for providing simple and easy-to-use guidance.

Vision of the CCL Taskforce
“The capacity of National Immunization Programmes is strengthened so that every individual can benefit from vaccines of assured quality delivered in the right amount at the right time through efficient logistics, proper vaccine management, and a well-functioning cold chain system”.

Outcomes of the Taskforce:

  • Adequate number of vaccines are available for every immunization session
  • Vaccine wastage is minimized without affecting coverage
  • Vaccines are stored and transported without temperature damage
  • New vaccine introduction is not constrained by lack of storage/transport capacity
  • There is greatly increased coordination and a commitment towards effective integration with procurement and management of other priority health commodities.




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TechNet21 is an online forum and mailing list to share information and experiences related to cold chain, logistics, and other practical aspects of immunisation delivery. 

It includes a calendar of events and a searchable database of experts who are available to work in these areas.

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