Pneumonia is the world’s number one killer of children under five. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 500,000 children die each year from pneumococcal infection. Mozambique took a big step in fighting pneumonia with the April 10 introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV).
This new vaccine requires a strong supply chain with very active monitoring as the vials are distributed. It’s commonly known that vaccines will spoil when exposed to too much heat, but this vaccine is also very sensitive to freezing. As a result it’s particularly important that PCV be kept between 2 – 8 degrees Celsius at all times. In a country with 60% of health centers off the electrical grid and very hot temperatures, this is no small challenge. Vials for PCV are also significantly larger than for existing vaccines in Mozambique. The increased size places demands on the infrastructure that is used for storage and transport. Finally, the vaccine is more than 35 times more expensive than any other vaccine dose. In a resource constrained environment, this means that it is crucially important to vaccinate as many children as possible without wasting any vaccines.
VillageReach is working to support the health system to address these new demands on the vaccine supply chain. In partnership with the government, our vaccine distribution system redesign is reaching more than 400 health centers every month in four of ten of the country’s provinces. Getting the vaccines all the way to the health centers is critical to make sure that all children throughout the country can access this lifesaving vaccine. This vaccine introduction has raised the stakes in Mozambique and for VillageReach – our work has become even more important and the potential of our impact even greater.
Country Director, Mozambique