Israeli health experts advise PH to set up more vaccine storage hubs, improve COVID data management

Published June 24, 2021, 10:59 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Israeli health experts have advised Philippine COVID-19 Task Force officials to set up centralized vaccine storage hubs that will cater to both urban and far-flung areas, considering the archipelagic composition of the country.

In a meeting with the Israeli health experts who arrived in the Philippines to share their success story, the group also emphasized the need to develop a smaller packaging for the vaccines as it noted that vaccines are more secure and less prone to shaking with the smaller packaging they use.

Adam Segal, logistics and operations manager of Salomon Levid & Elstein Ltd., said the use of smaller packaging for vaccines was proven effective by the Israeli Ministry of Health.

“The Philippines needs more hubs since it is an archipelago. You should go for creating centralized hubs for Pfizer vaccines based on the ability to reach a certain population, and possibly with a customized approach in more remote areas,” said Segal.

“Centralized hubs for vaccine storage will work with metropolitan areas, with a dedicated approach in remote areas,” Segal added.

Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje requested the Israeli team to provide samples of their vials so that it will be easier for the Philippines to reproduce them.

Traffic Light Model

During the discussion, the Israeli health experts also stressed the importance of effective management of COVID-19 data, which happens to be one of the criticisms being hurled against Philippine officials.

The Israeli experts then explained how they developed and managed their vaccination data system.

According to Dafna Segol, the Israeli government uses a data-based approach when making decisions related to their vaccination program.

One key feature of the Israeli vaccine information system is their use of a “traffic light” model.Through this approach, Israeli authorities are able to identify cities or areas that warrant immediate action.

“It allows us to focus on cities that need more attention,” Segol added.

Data Management Challenge

For his part, Department of Information and Communications Technology Edmond Chua said they already established a data warehouse to capture information related to the vaccine supply chain and then process them to make crucial day-to-day decisions.

Chua noted the local government units’ lack of resources remains the biggest challenge for data management in the vaccination program.

To address this situation, he said the DICT has designated LGUs as the “data owner” of their vaccination records. This means the LGUs are accountable in submitting accurate information based on their vaccination records.

“In terms of the development of the technologies and tools to help in the submission (of vaccine data), we are adopting a low tech and low internet process,” Chua said.

The NTF COVID-19 has also developed an application that will ensure transparency and accountability in submitting data to the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC).

“We monitor not only the performance of the LGUs but it is also helpful in providing feedback for the public policy health experts in calibrating our vaccination program,” Chua explained.

Good Advice

Health Undersecretary Ma. Carolina Vidal-Taiño noted that the meeting with the Israeli health experts will help the government further improve the implementation of its vaccine roll out.

“As we prepare for the arrival of the 40-million vaccines from Pfizer, the sharing of best practices and strategies from our Israeli partners will be a learning opportunity that we can adopt in our practice,” Vidal-Taiño said.

“We will consider the four success factors of Israel on vaccine distribution. First, the availability of trained human resources and the availability of infrastructure. Second, the small batch packaging, which we are very interested in. Third, the high usage rate and minimal waste. And lastly, the adequate preparation for the storage capacity and the outstanding cold chain distribution,” she explained.