Project Last Mile shares expertise from the Coca-Cola system in Nigeria to to improve access to vaccinations by strengthening public sector vaccine refrigeration maintenance in Lagos State pilot.
Today, Project Last Mile launched the Cold Chain Equipment Maintenance Project in Lagos State at the Southern Sun.
Project Last Mile – a partnership working to make life-saving medicines available to people who need them most – partnered with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), the Lagos State government, the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) and the Coca-Cola Company to improve access to vaccinations by strengthening public sector refrigeration, or “cold chain” capacity in Lagos State.
This partnership is working together to create a positive cycle that builds human capital, reduces future healthcare costs, and contributes to national development.
Across Nigeria, the government and donors are investing billions of dollars to strengthen health systems and make affordable vaccines available to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Vaccines need to be carefully stored and shipped at specific temperatures to remain effective, which means that improving cold chain capacity helps reduce vaccine waste from malfunctioning cold storage at health facilities and enables lifesaving vaccines to be available where and when they are needed.
As in many parts of Africa, Lagos State faces challenges in last mile delivery of medicines and vaccines due in part to weak cold chain infrastructure. Nigeria requires 10,000 items of working cold chain equipment to cover all its health facilities, but 41% of clinics have no vaccine coolers and 35% of vaccine coolers are non-functional. Only 4,500 vaccine coolers are fully functional.
Yet, the NBC, Nigeria’s local Coca-Cola bottler, ensures 24 to 48-hour repairs on all 77,000 of its refrigeration units in Nigeria, which are working more than 99% of the time. For this reason, the Lagos State government and NPHCDA partnered with Project Last Mile to improve the availability of vaccinations and to create a model that could be replicated across Nigeria and in other countries facing the same challenges.
In January 2019, Project Last Mile began the cold chain equipment maintenance pilot in Lagos State. Through the pilot, two teams are currently repairing an average of three items of cold chain equipment per team per day.
Some of the pilot’s key results as of end of April 2019 include:
- Inspecting 348 coolers at health facilities in February and March.
- Of the 348 coolers, 124 (35,63%) were non-functional.
- 76 (61,3%) of those 124 non-functional units have been repaired and are functional again.
- All 124 units to be fully functional by 31 May 2019.
Dr. Lateef Lawal, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, Permanent Secretary said, “This partnership is an example of our commitment to carrying out our mandate to provide quality health care delivery in Lagos State. A well-functioning cold chain equipment maintenance program will help us make sure that vaccines are available where and when needed.”
Speaking on the initiative, George Polymenakos, Managing Director, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) explained that the company’s efforts are in line with the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company’s (CCHBC) 2025 sustainability commitments, which seek to address areas of most material importance for the society as well as for the CCHBC business.
“We strive to secure long-term partnerships with non-governmental organisations, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to maximise the impact of our community programmes. We are pleased that by working with our other partners on this initiative, the expertise of our cold equipment technical team can be put to use in improving overall well-being in our communities”, Polymenakos remarked.
Adrian Ristow, Project Director for Project Last Mile says, “We are excited at the potential to develop Project Last Mile’s work in Lagos State in Cold Chain Equipment maintenance into a model that can be replicated in other parts of Nigeria, as well as across Africa.”
The pilot is expected to run until September 2019. Should the pilot prove successful in Lagos State Project Last Mile will discuss the possibility of scaling the project across Nigeria. Project Last Mile will also be looking to work with Ministries of Health in other African countries facing similar challenges in cold chain capacity.