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Mobile Phone Masts Support Vaccine Supply Chain

Innovative partnerships between private sector companies, voluntary organisations and governments can help solve global challenges and provide access to healthcare and food, according to a report by SCM World and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The report, "Mobilising the supply chain community to solve global challenges: Engaging with the private sector," highlighted the benefits of cross sector partnerships. It cited how vaccine distribution in Ghana, Zimbabwe and India proved to be a perfect example of how such partnerships could work.

In this case, not-for-profit organisation Energize the Chain worked to build links between telecommunications providers, public sector ministries of health and bridging organisations such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). The partnership made use of assets and infrastructure not normally related to healthcare such mobile phone masts to provide vaccines for rural communities.

Excess electricity from masts powered the refrigeration units needed to store vaccines that require temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). And vaccines were stored within the towers themselves.

“The towers typically have strong security, which makes them effective distribution nodes along the last-mile vaccine supply chain,” the report said.

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