Glory Ife and Chisom Ebih
Project Last Mile, a public-private partnership that shares Coca-Cola’s expertise to support African governments in the delivery of life-saving medicines, has launched a Cold Chain Equipment Maintenance Project in Lagos.
Launched to support Lagos State’s immunisation programme through sharing refrigeration maintenance expertise from Coca-Cola’s experience, the project is to ensure that health facilities have functional vaccine coolers.
In the programme, the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Coca-Cola’s bottling partner in Nigeria, will trains maintenance officers using its expertise, which ensure 24 to 48-hour repairs on all 77, 000 of its refrigeration units in Nigeria.
Since the start of the cold chain equipment maintenance pilot programme in January 2019, an average of three cold chain equipment are repaired per day in Lagos and 61 per cent of non-functional coolers have since been repaired and are now operational. The results of the pilot phase expected to run until August 2019 will determine the decision to scale the project to the rest of Nigeria.
Across Nigeria, the government and donors are investing billions of dollars to strengthen health systems and make affordable vaccines available to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio, measles, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Vaccines need to be carefully stored and shipped at specific temperatures to remain effective, which means that improving cold chain capacity helps reduce vaccine waste from malfunctioning cold storage at health facilities and enables lifesaving vaccines to be available where and when they are needed.
According to Dr. Lateef Lawal, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, “this partnership is an example of our commitment to carrying out our mandate to provide quality health care delivery in Lagos State. A well-functioning cold chain equipment maintenance programme will help us ensure that vaccines are available where and when needed.”
Speaking on the initiative, Managing Director, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), George Polymenakos, said the company’s efforts were in line with the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company’s (CCHBC) 2025 sustainability commitments, which seek to address areas of most material importance for the society as well as for the CCHBC business.
According to him, “we strive to secure long-term partnerships with non-governmental organisations, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to maximise the impact of our community programmes.”
“We are pleased that by working with our other partners on this initiative, the expertise of our cold equipment technical team can be used in improving overall well-being in our communities.”
The Project Director, Project Last Mile, Adrian Ristow, said: “We are excited at the potential to develop Project Last Mile›s work in Lagos State in Cold Chain Equipment maintenance into a model that can be replicated in other parts of Nigeria, as well as across Africa.”