Achieving Better Immunization Coverage and Improved Vaccine Equity: The CCEOP Project

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Achieving Better Immunization Coverage and Improved Vaccine Equity: The CCEOP Project

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Vaccination saves 2 to 3 million children (about the population of Arkansas) every year from deadly diseases. Also, the number of children paralyzed by polio has fallen by over 99% since 1998 and the Measles vaccination averted over 23 million deaths between 2000 and 2018”.[1] However, UNICEF has warned that a substantial number of children in Nigeria risk death and disability from vaccine-preventable diseases as only 36% of children between 12-23 months (about 2 years) receive all the recommended vaccines for routine immunization.[2]

One of the contributing factors to the issue of low immunization coverage is the inability of Primary Healthcare Centers, especially those located in rural communities, to safely store vaccines provided. As a result, large vaccine doses become ineffective and are considered unfit for use. To mitigate this, GAVI – the Vaccine Alliance, in collaboration with the Nigerian government are co-funding a project – CCEOP (Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform) – aimed at reinforcing the country’s cold chain system to achieve better immunization coverage and improved vaccine equity.

A Cold chain is defined as “an uninterrupted supply chain, developed for temperature-sensitive products, that maintains the quality of products from production through to transportation, distribution, storage, and retail by using temperature-controlled environments.” Thus, a Cold chain equipment is one which allows for the implementation of quality control & maintenance of vaccines.[3] From the time they are made until the time of immunization, vaccines must be kept continually in a constrained temperature range. This is so that the vaccination won’t lose its effectiveness if the temperature is too high or low (its ability to protect against disease). A vaccination cannot be repaired or restored once it has lost its efficacy.

The goal of the project is to strengthen the cold chain system to achieve better immunization coverage and improved equity by ensuring the presence of a functional vaccine refrigerator in at least one PHC in every political ward in the country. Its objectives include equipping primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities in unequipped large and small wards, replacing obsolete cold chain equipment at health facilities and LGA cold stores as per UNICEF protocol, and expanding the cold chain storage capacity at health facilities & LGA cold stores in line with new vaccine introduction requirements.

Sydani Group is providing technical assistance to the Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) through the CCEOP Project Implementation team to ensure that the deployment and installation of vaccine refrigerators are conducted seamlessly and in accordance with standard guidelines. The CCEOP Project is divided into two phases, the initial phase, and the scale-up phase, with the initial phase sub-divided into three tranches.

The set of highly skilled consultants from Sydani, dedicated to this project, has successfully provided support to achieve the objectives of the project so far. As a result, over eight thousand (8,000) cold chain equipment have been installed across the country. This has increased the ward saturation level from 39.5% prior to the project implementation in 2019, to the now 92%. At the end of the implementation of tranche 3, the country’s ward cold chain equipment saturation would be 100%.

The CCEOP Project can be described as a step forward in the goal of strengthening the cold chain system in the country to achieve better immunization coverage and improved equity within Nigeria. It is an initiative geared towards the overall goal of certifying Nigerians, especially our children, free from the grip of deadly, life-altering diseases.

William Herbert Foege, an American Physicist and Epidemiologist described vaccines as the “tugboats of preventive healthcare.” If vaccines are the tugboat, then support systems such as the CCEOP are the towing hook that makes it possible for nations to provide preventive healthcare to their citizens.

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