15 Countries, 1 Initiative: Collaborating and Coordinating to Better Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines

November 3rd, 2022 | News


Last month, the COVID-19 Vaccine Collaborative Supply Planning Initiative (VCSP) held its second in-person retreat for its network of stakeholders and partners involved in COVID-19 vaccine supply planning from global, regional, and country levels.

What is VCSP? The VCSP Initiative started in 2021 to help countries plan orders for COVID-19 vaccines to better meet their needs. Fifteen countries use VCSP’s standardized approach, which triangulates data to have better visibility into key supply planning indicators such as stock status, upcoming shortages and/or overstock, incoming shipments, and potential expirations given consumption trends. The approach allows countries to test various supply planning scenarios. Country teams participate in and report to national technical logistics working groups to support improved decision-making at the country level and make informed decisions on upcoming orders. The VCSP aspires to inform regional and global supply planning, process improvements, and guidance. See more info here.

All 15 country teams traveled to Johannesburg to attend including representatives from ministries of health, UNICEF, JSI, and implementing partners (CHAI, VillageReach, PATH, Guidehouse, inSupply, and JSH). Several additional countries were represented by their UNICEF vaccine management specialists to learn about the initiative.

Regional and global representatives from multilateral organizations such as UNICEF, WHO, WFP, Africa CDC, and the BMGF also participated in the retreat, engaging with country teams and presenting relevant regional and global guidance, perspectives, and updates.

During the retreat, each country presented its COVID-19 vaccine supply planning context at a poster reception. Wish you’d been there?

A man looks at a poster being presented by a woman

The poster reception was an opportunity to connect in person, get feedback from peers, compare situations, share accomplishments and successes, learn about and exchange solutions to common challenges, and consider things to prioritize in the future. It was a dynamic and engaging event; participants were curious, intrigued, questioning, and encouraging of each other.

Key takeaways from the session

We have made great strides as a team to move the supply planning forward. And we are all experiencing similar challenges – while challenges are not always good, it has assisted to lay a foundation from which all countries can benefit.

Country context understanding is critical to implementation of strategies.

[My key takeaway is] the commonality of challenges and shared experiences in vaccine management across countries.

It is important to share experiences on a health problem that has not been solved (e.g., COVID-19 vaccination), this allows countries to do better… by drawing on the positive experiences of other countries.

Common conversations focused on stakeholder buy-in for the VCSP approach to supply planning, decisions made for supply planning, and how countries can manage health care waste from the increased number of vaccines, syringes, and personal protective equipment that the pandemic has generated. Here’s a video of the session in action.

Since the retreat, VCSP’s reach has expanded; Senegal and Sierra Leone have joined, reinforcing the value and potential of this important work. Country programs are also asking to apply this same approach to routine immunization. We look forward to fostering continued collaboration between VCSP countries and partners, and stand by the value of in-person meetings as one way to achieve this.

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