It's a mystery to me, considering that manual temperature monitoring of vaccine stores using monthly charts and glass thermometers was the first MIS achievement of the EPI in the last 4 years of the 1970s - yet the first Remote Temperature Monitoring (RTM) studies were 10 years ago and only a handful of countries have implemented RTM today. The benefits of the manual monitoring in 1976 were simple, clear and motivating. Those of the RTM should be even more enticing. Temperature recording is automatic and does not suffer from low compliance and inaccuracy. Supervision dashboards can post the problems in realtime, enabling oversight to be timely and constructive. Repair technicians could be equipped with diagnostic tools to respond to SOS calls based on data on failure modes, ask Nexleaf and PATH. Supervisors will be able to track areas and stores that are strong or weak in vaccines and equipment care. And managers will be equipped to base the selection of new equipment models for procurement, on those that actually perform the best.
So, if the technology has arrived, where is the implementation? The CCE Optimization Platform expresses RTM as a 'required upgrade’ to the WHO, minimal monitoring norm; I see it as the way to achieve a step-change towards safer, more efficient vaccine supply chain (SC). In a word, improved oversight of the supply chain will enable vaccines to be used to the limits of thier stability.:
- to interest the countries, they should be presented the ‘big-picture’ benefits of supervision oversight
- to do this, program managers meetings could allow presentations and consultants could be trained
- financing to scale up the effort should be sought for the whole region - otherwise, it will be too slow!
- RTM planning templates could help quantify the costs and training burden fast, with just enough data
- present/brief/train consultants now working in the region
Now, what do you say? Isn't RTM the first step towards 'end-to-end' supply chain monitoring? Importance = HIGH?