Project Last Mile shares expertise from Coca-Cola to strengthen public sector vaccine refrigeration maintenance in Lagos State
Project Last Mile – a public-private partnership that shares Coca-Cola’s expertise to support African governments in the delivery of life-saving medicines and supplies to the communities that are most in need – has launched a Cold Chain Equipment Maintenance Project in Lagos.
The project that is still in its pilot phase has been launched to support Lagos State’s immunisation program through sharing refrigeration maintenance expertise from Coca-Cola’s experience. Nigeria requires 10,000 items of working cold chain equipment to cover all its health facilities, however, 41% of clinics have no vaccine coolers and 35% of vaccine coolers are non-functional with only 4,500 vaccine coolers functioning fully.
On the other hand, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Coca-Cola’s bottling partner in Nigeria ensures 24 to 48-hour repairs on all 77,000 of its refrigeration units in Nigeria, which as a result are working more than 99% of the time.
For this reason, the Lagos State government partnered with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) and Coca-Cola to strengthen public sector refrigeration or “cold chain” capacity in Lagos State to improve access to vaccines.
Since the start of the cold chain equipment maintenance pilot programme in January 2019, an average of three cold chain equipment is repaired per day in Lagos and 61% 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.
Dr Lateef Lawal, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, Permanent Secretary said, “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 program will help us make sure that vaccines are available where and when needed.”
Speaking on the initiative, George Polymenakos, Managing Director, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) explained that the company’s efforts are 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. “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”, Polymenakos remarked.
Adrian Ristow, Project Director for Project Last Mile says, “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.”
This partnership will also create a positive cycle that builds human capital, reduces future healthcare costs, and contributes to national development.