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Vaccine access project gets underway

Released at: 20:55, 17/04/2019

Vaccine access project gets underway

Photo: Zuellig Pharma

Zuellig Pharma and two local institutes announce project to expand access to vaccines through the use of eZCooler technology.

by Nghi Do

The National Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (NICVB), the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), and Zuellig Pharma announced a project on April 17 to expand access to vaccines in Vietnam through the use of the eZCooler - an innovative packaging technology that ensures the integrity of temperature-sensitive products to the last mile of transportation.

The $600,000 project was launched during a kick-off meeting on the same day. Present at the meeting were Director of NICBV Mr. Doan Huu Thien, Ambassador of Switzerland to Vietnam H.E. Beatrice Maser Mallor, Chief Executive Officer of Zuellig Pharma Mr. John Davison, Area Director Southeast Asia of Zuellig Pharma Mr. Yves Hermes, and Chief Executive of Zuellig Pharma Vietnam Mr. Marc Franck.

Zuellig Pharma, one of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia, will contribute the innovative eZCooler, a temperature-controlled packaging solution to maintain product quality during transportation, therefore expanding access to vaccines in the country, particularly in remote areas.

It will also cooperate with NICVB and NIHE to provide training to employees of the Medical Prevention Departments in six provinces on international standards and Goods Storage Practices for cold chain supply management and the usage of the eZCooler.

The project aims to support the Vietnam Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), initiated by the Ministry of Health in 1981 with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The public health program has since benefitted millions of women and children and ensuring the highest standards in cold chains for vaccines will further contribute to its success.

Under the EPI’s plan, the Ministry of Health has the goal of improving the proportion of vaccinations in areas that are at high risk of outbreaks, and in areas that are geographically difficult to reach, such as remote, mountainous, or island areas. In view of this, Zuellig Pharma will contribute eZCooler with three capacities (8 liters, 12 liters, and 96 liters) to six northern provinces: Hai Duong, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh, Ha Giang, Son La, and Yen Bai.

“We faced many challenges in meeting the EPI’s goals, such as access to local health centers in remote areas, changes in temperature through different seasons and regions, and limited transport networks in remote areas,” Mr. Thien said at the meeting.

“The importance of maintaining the cold chain to ensure the prescribed temperatures during transport is crucial in helping to guarantee the integrity and quality of pharmaceuticals as well as patient safety. We greatly appreciate the support from Zuellig Pharma Vietnam in sharing the innovative eZCooler technology to benefit the Vietnamese community. It definitely creates a premise for the sustainable development of the cold chain supply chain in Vietnam.”

According to Business Monitor International, Vietnam’s healthcare expenditure was estimated at $16.1 billion in 2017, representing 7.5 per cent of GDP, and the figure will grow at 12.5 per cent a year to $22.7 billion by 2021. Vaccines and cold chain products make up a significant part of this expenditure, according to Mr. Franck. The company is honored to contribute innovative solutions to this project to ensure that everyone in the country has easy access to vaccines.

eZCooler is a sophisticated new packaging solution that ensures the integrity of temperature-sensitive products to the last mile of transportation. The solution is designed and manufactured using a single insulation system to maintain a specific pharmaceutical temperature for up to five days, making healthcare more accessible to places across Asia, especially in remote or rural areas.

It is essential that vaccines are stored continuously at a temperature of between 2C and 8C. Any deviation or interruption in the cold chain in production, storage, transport, and use can potentially damage the integrity of the vaccine, resulting in reduced efficacy and safety in treatment.

Zuellig Pharma has become a $13 billion business with over 13,000 employees, serving over 350,000 medical facilities in 13 markets in Asia. Zuellig Pharma Vietnam was established in Vietnam in 1999.

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