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Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, it has been widely accepted that a successful vaccination programme was the best and most effective way to return to a sense of normality. As the vaccination efforts continue, it is vitally important that Supply Chains and Cold Chains are effectively managed to ensure that they have the effectiveness and capacity to cope with demand.

This article from Devex in April 2020 highlighted the importance of having a strong Cold Chain in order to effectively vaccinate people. Sadly, we know that there already delays to the distribution of vaccines in Africa, with many countries including Rwanda and Ghana already exhausting their initial supplies.

As of April 2021, the World Health Organisation estimates that less than 2% of the total number of Covid vaccine doses administered globally have been in Africa. The aim is to ensure that 35% of the population are vaccinated against COVID by the end of 2021.

Those delivering the vaccination programme, many of whom will be Humanitarian Logisticians working for NGOs and Organisations, will need to be certain that their Supply and Cold Chains are effectively managed. UNICEF have already delivered over 38 million doses across more than 100 countries in the region.

A strong, efficient Cold Chain is essential if the vaccination effort in Africa is to be successful. Vaccines are required to be stored under certain conditions, including being effectively temperature controlled to ensure that they do not expire. Having Medical Logisticians with the right skills and expertise to manage this precious supply will be an essential part of delivering a successful vaccination programme.

Meanwhile, there will also be pressure on the wider Supply Chain. As the supply of vaccines increase, the need to effectively manage the storage and distribution will be an incredibly important part of the efforts.  Logistical functions including Warehousing and Transportation will need to be managed in a coordinated way to ensure that the vaccines are acquired, stored and distributed in the most effective way possible.

At LLA, we are proud to be the exclusive learning providers of the Certification in Humanitarian Medical Logistics Practices (MedLog), which is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of those working in Medical Supply Chains, including the Cold Chain. We also provide the Certification in Humanitarian Supply Chain Management (CHSCM), an advanced level qualification that is ideal for those working at a strategic level within the Supply Chain. Many of our MedLog and CHSCM students and graduates are working on the frontline in providing the vaccination distribution and we are very proud to have played a small part in advancing their skills.

With the right skills and expertise, we can ensure that Africa is successfully vaccinated by the end of next year at the very latest. It is only when everyone in the world has been protected from this deadly pandemic that we can put the ordeal of the past 12 months behind us.

LLA Logistics Learning Alliance