Enhancing Cold Chain Monitoring for Health Commodities in Africa

June 19, 2024
Enhancing Cold Chain Monitoring for Health Commodities in Africa

Our comprehensive assessment of health commodity supply chains across ten African countries validated market launch plans for RTMD solutions, addressing critical gaps in cold chain logistics and reducing risks of spoilage. This strategic approach has positioned our client to sustainably engage key stakeholders and prioritize RTMDs in health commodity procurement and budgeting processes.

Our client is a global data and technology company providing revolutionary risk management solutions and cargo insurance for essential supply chains. Initially focused on the food industry, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a pivot towards monitoring the integrity of cold chain health commodities, especially the rapidly deployed vaccines. This strategic shift led the client to explore market penetration potential for their solutions in Africa's health commodity supply chain.

The Problem

Health commodities often undergo a complex journey from manufacturers to end users, passing through importers, distributors, warehousing, and health facilities. This movement typically lacks continuous temperature and humidity monitoring, posing wastage risks due to spoilage and potential safety hazards for end users. Effective monitoring systems are essential but require funding, a significant challenge given the financial constraints of many African healthcare systems.

Few African countries currently meet the Abuja target of allocating 15% of their annual budget to health. Consequently, the procurement and infrastructure needed to support and store health commodities rely heavily on development and technical partners such as WHO, PEPFAR, and The Global Fund. Adequate infrastructure, including warehousing, transportation, storage space, cold chain equipment, and remote temperature monitoring (RTMDs) technologies, is often lacking, especially for temperature-sensitive commodities like insulin and laboratory reagents.

While storage and distribution guidelines exist, implementation remains challenging. WHO's guidelines emphasize maintaining temperature records and limiting losses and expiries to 5% of the procurement budget, with some countries setting even lower targets. However, temperature excursions still result in $35 billion in annual losses for the healthcare industry

The Solution

Our approach involved a comprehensive baseline assessment of health commodity supply chain systems and cold chain logistics practices across ten African countries to identify key opinion leaders, barriers, gaps and opportunities. This was followed by an activation phase where we engaged sixty potential clients and key influencers through product trials and brand awareness campaigns at five local, regional, and global events. Our efforts led to the launch of several demonstration studies across the project countries.

Our assessment revealed low overall technology usage and significant financial barriers to procuring cold chain equipment (CEE) and RTMDs. Exceptions were found in countries supported by GAVI, with external budgets and documented strategies for CEE, RTMDs, Data governance, and Technical Assistance.

Using a 5-level maturity model, we prioritized countries by segmenting them into archetypes for targeted market penetration activities, campaigns, demonstration, and procurement opportunities.  


Given the low current adoption and usage of technology in health commodity supply chains, we recommended a medium- to long-term strategy to proactively and sustainably engage key stakeholders. This involves regular and consistent engagement through direct meetings and presentations at health commodity supply chain events and professional groupings. Health commodity procurement-related budgets form a significant proportion of total health expenditure, so the goal is to make RTMDs a priority in planning and budgeting processes.

Our market penetration strategy sought to improve brand visibility and awareness, nurture the shaping of a healthcare market for insurance-backed RTMD technology systems. This approach is expected to lead to significant long-term benefits, including:

  • Increased Brand Visibility: Regular engagement with stakeholders will raise awareness of the client's solutions and build a strong brand presence in the health commodity supply chain market.
  • Stakeholder Cultivation: Consistent interactions will help cultivate relationships with key stakeholders, making them advocates for RTMD technology and its integration into national health systems.
  • Market Development: Over time, our strategy will nurture an integrated and sustainable market for data-driven supply chain solutions anchored on RTMD technology, positioning the client as a leader in cold chain monitoring solutions for health commodities in Africa.
  • Resilient and sustainable supply chains: The traceability of health commodity supply chains until the last mile will be critical to achieving cost efficiency and delivering quality healthcare and responsive public health interventions
  • Improved Health Outcomes: Enhanced monitoring of temperature-sensitive health commodities will reduce wastage and ensure the quality and safety of these products, ultimately improving health outcomes across the continent and contributing to universal health coverage.

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