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Apr 7, 2015   |   Blog Post

You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See

By Alvaro Lopes

National Supply Chain Officer

Improving Data for Management of the Vaccine Cold Chain in Mozambique

Last week I was spending a lot of time with my colleague from UNICEF/Mozambique to create a distribution plan for  new cold chain equipment procured and funded by UNICEF. This is a great opportunity for the country to strengthen the cold chain to ensure vaccines are available and potent all the way to the last mile of delivery.

Health worker repairing a broken fridge

Health worker repairing a broken fridge

Maintaining the cold chain is not an easy task because, as the title says, you can’t manage what you can’t see. Often times, data is inconsistent, incomplete or out of date regarding cold chain equipment and maintenance.  It can take weeks, even months for an issue to be resolved due to the lack of communication infrastructure between rural health centers at the last mile and the decision makers who initiate a response — for repairs, new equipment, etc.

Mozambique is a big country with almost 1,500 health centers. So how did we know where to plan for the new refrigerators?  We’ve been using new tools to increase data visibility through modeling, improved data collection, and regularly updated (and accurate!) information on cold chain equipment.  These new tools can tell us how existing cold chain equipment is performing, where cold chain functionality challenges exist, and help inform our decisions on the best configuration for new equipment.

With more data points at our fingertips, creating the distribution plan for the new cold chain equipment has been much easier than in the past. We can more accurately see and assess where the needs are, so we can better manage the response.

Through these new efforts, Mozambique has made great progress to improve the vaccine supply chain. This is just one example of using data for improved decision making.

Read more about this topic in our new policy paper, “Data for Management: It’s Not Just Another Report.”

About the Author
With a background in planning and management, experience in the private sector and NGO sector logistics, Alvaro brings a new set of skills and experience to the Mozambique team. Alvaro will lead the HERMES modeling work and the subsequent national supply chain system re-design. He will also lead our work around private sector engagement. Prior to VillageReach, he worked for several years with private sector companies including  Unilever as a Logistician Supply Chain Manager, and later as a Supply Chain Director for PSI.

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