Landmark steps have been taken to revamp vaccine, storage, supply and management this was stated by Saira Afzal Tarar

April 23, 2015

Islamabad 23rd April, 2015:       Minister of State for National Health Services Regulation & Coordination Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar Said I personally think that this is a sacred trust and there can be no compromise on the quality standards, storage conditions and management of life saving vaccines for our children. Today is an important occasion when we thank Allah Almighty for guiding us in initiating major reform in vaccine supply and management for the children of Pakistan. While she was addressing the press briefing in EPI Islamabad.   The events of February this year were very unfortunate and I am grateful to Allah Almighty for guiding us through a difficult time. I am thankful indeed to our media colleagues as they have provided us with very valuable guidance throughout.   She said, we had to deal with an adverse situation. However, since our intentions were right, Allah Almighty converted adversity into an opportunity for us to take a closer look at the deficiencies and inadequacies and completely revamp the vaccine storage and management system to make it state-of-the-art and at par with internationally accepted standards.   As you would recall a fact finding inquiry was instituted immediately and stern action was taken where it was found that there was negligence by any official. The entire team from top to bottom has been removed.   A fresh team was assigned the task of complete revamp of the entire system. This team was mainly assisted by USAID through Deliver project.     Mrs Saira Afzal Tarer said we validated vaccine data of Pakistan can be accessed from anywhere in the world through web based vLMIS system. Moreover, EPI operations can be monitored online. International good practices including GS 1 Barcoding, scanning, and stock sufficiency are being managed and monitored on daily basis.   She said 30 supply chain experts worked on the average 10 hours/day for 40 days and introduced GS 1 barcoding and scanning to validate quantities of vaccines and ancillary products in the cold rooms, freezers and dry stores and putting data online in the vLMIS system to optimize stock management. Federal EPI with the assistance of partners like USAID Deliver  has developed five policy and operational level documents which will be used for compliance at the EPI.   She said, We are thankful to USAID Deliver Pakistan for quickly providing support to reform the federal EPI cold rooms and dry stores which includes warehouse equipment, scanners, computers, security cameras, safety equipment, EPI HOTLINE & Video Conferencing capability with the provincial EPI programs for strengthening Routine Immunization services and capacity building on vLMIS systems. To cater the urgent need for human resource, our Ministry has advertised 49 vacant positions. Once hired these officials will be provided training on the best practices being followed internationally. Procedures of receipts, storage and issuance/transportation of vaccine is now being brought at par with international protocols and SOPs. Physical count, inventory management & re-arrangement of vaccines as per batch number, expiry date & VVM is being carried out.  Complete operationalization of vLMIS ensuring real-time data visibility, quality & accountability.   She said The Vaccine Logistics Manuals have been developed according to international standards. Upgrading and renovation of stores at Federal EPI is underway, including safety measures, electric repairs and maintenance of all equipment. Revision of SOPs and job descriptions is being done to ensure improved inventory management through full operationalization of vLMIS.   She said a state-of-the-art vLMIS operations room is being established at Federal EPI which will work as a nerve-center for dissemination. The Federal EPI is preparing a transition plan whereby capacity building of the staff being recruited by the Ministry shall be ensured. Completion timeframe of reforms is three months which will be followed by the reforms in Provincial EPI stores. Implementation of best warehousing practices is being ensured. All of these reforms are expected to improve vaccine management, governance and accountability to serve Pakistani children better and prevent them from vaccine preventable diseases.