Stakeholder orchestration a key for effective vaccination program: experts at NASSCOM

The funding for such large-scale distribution would be huge, and India should be ready with a funding of around Rs 80,000 crore for the next one year for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine

0
105
New Delhi: At a time when the world is gearing for the Coronavirus vaccine, NASSCOM CoE for IoT/AI, under its Healthcare initiative LHIF, organized a virtual conference themed ‘Vaccine Trials – Optimising the Supply Chain’. The conference raised the important aspect of the supply chain, the need to make logistics smarter with automation and digitization. Everyone in the conference was of the view that as the development of the vaccine is progressing, countries need to invest in infrastructure for distributing a vaccine globally on an equitable basis.
The funding for such large-scale distribution would be huge, and India should be ready with a funding of around Rs 80,000 crore for the next one year for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the remote areas of the country, India has to ensure an adequate power supply that could help maintain the temperature required to keep the vaccine safe. It is a huge challenge, and all the stakeholders have to work together to take up the challenge of such a large-scale operation.
Talking about the need for clear communication from the government, Dr. Satish D Ravetkar, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India, said, “Everything starts with the government getting into action. IT-enabled supply chain management should be established as at Serum Institute we produce 1.6 million doses annually, and we claim that every third child in the world is vaccinated by Serum Institute vaccines. So, we can roll out this vaccine fast. Once we get a confirmed plan from the government then we need everybody to gear up. It will be easier for all manufacturers to plan their production and all the stakeholders in the chain can implement it.”
Talking about counterfeiting, he said, “We have experience in counterfeiting and in this COVID-19 this is bound to happen as there is a huge demand for it. We have to establish machinery and system to control this.”
It is estimated that more than 8,000 jumbo jets would be required to transport vaccine globally. Logistics will play a huge role in ensuring that the world is free from coronavirus. One of the challenges is the adequate availability of cold storage facilities, as the vaccine is required to be kept at -80 degrees Celsius. Basically, the delivery would require spotless coordination between transportation service and cold storage units.
Delivering his special Keynote, Dr. Raj Shankar Ghosh, Senior Advisor-Vaccine Delivery, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, threw light on ‘Gearing up for the Vaccine Delivery – India and Global Perspective’ and said, “India’s biggest asset to run a successful Covid vaccine campaign is in the country’s IEC: Innovation; Experience and Commitment. Innovations in technology and on ground, experience with large public health campaigns, and commitment of her frontline workers. India for last 20 years has developed a very strong vaccine manufacturing industry; the second advantage is that India has experience of conducting large vaccination programmes; and the third advantage is the availability of in-house tech firms.”
Reminding that there are so many complex issues such as distribution, storage, need of around 10 lakh centres, training for 10 lakh people, etc, Mr. Pramod Bhasin, Founder Genpact, Chairman Clix Capital and Past Chairman & Member of NASSCOM Executive Council, said, “Given the pace of development and enormous effort, we will hit over supply very soon; it will also require public-private participation and if orchestrated well can lead to wonderful result. The technology will play a role in providing the backbone in last mile delivery and make sure that it reaches the destinations in the fastest possible time.”
Talking about the need for National Digital Health Record, Dr. Jitendra Sharma, Managing Director & CEO- AMTZ , Executive Director, Kalam Institute of Health Technology, said, “Vaccination has to be for everyone and it will have its own code, then why digital health mission and electronic record platform not be built on QR code of the vaccine itself. All warehousing and logistics have security provision using CCTVs, and why CCTV cameras not become thermal scanners as well. Why vaccination as an activity is important but the extent to which we can make it incrementally effective has not been explored.”
As the news of vaccines is trickling in, discussion around its distribution is gaining heat. The vaccine will be most sought-after one and thus will increase the probability of counterfeit and diverting for the first six to 12 months; here the Blockchain technology will come in handy as it will help in supply chain integrity at various checkpoints. Speaking on ‘Technology at Play for Vaccine Supply Chain – A global perspective’, Mr. Venugopal Kandimalla, SVP and Global Head of Healthcare and Lifesciences at Tech Mahindra, said, “Digital supply chains can play an important role in vaccine distribution by ensuring seamless flow of vials from manufacturer to point of care and assure the authenticity and safety of the vaccine to consumers. At the same time these technologies will build trust between multiple stakeholders in the supply chain, help in production planning and coordination across various government and non-government bodies in public health. Block chain, mobility, cloud, edge computing and IoT few of the technologies that can be leveraged to make this possible”
According to the World Health Organization, the world economy would create around 40 million health-sector jobs by 2030; however, there would still be a shortfall of around 10 million nurses, physicians, and midwives globally over the same period. “The need, therefore, is to attract, train, and retain more healthcare professionals; we also need to ensure that their time is utilized in adding value by caring for patients. Here the role of AI comes into play, which can lead to better outcomes and increase efficiency. AI in healthcare is at the top of mind for decision-makers, and an increasing number of governments are setting out aspirations for AI in healthcare,” said Mr. Sajan Khosla, Head of Real World Evidence – R&D Oncology at AstraZeneca, while delivering an industry keynote on ‘Role of AI and ML in capitalizing the Real-World Evidence for better healthcare outcomes’.