Belize Response Initiative for Cold Chain Development
- Phase 1: evaluation of current conditions and procedures used to deliver medical specimens to the existing cold chain process.
- Phase 2: design a pilot implementation strategy that will address areas for improvement in the existing cold chain protocol.
- Phase 3: develop a field-validated pilot solution for a medical cold chain
Overall, the goal is to create a solution for a medical cold chain that can be further scaled in Belize and implemented in other low to middle income countries.
While the larger effects of COVID-19 have certainly continued to impact the activities of development projects globally, project activities within BRICC have pushed ahead.
The team is evaluating the current “pain points” in the medical cold chain process used by laboratories throughout Belize. Currently, the cold chain in Belize consists of the transportation of medical samples from one of eight Regional Laboratories, where the majority of samples are collected, to CML where samples are processed for testing. A large challenge of this process is ensuring a constant temperature threshold of the shipment to maintain sample viability. In order to be considered viable for testing, the standard recommended by the Mayo Clinic is for medical samples to maintain a temperature range of 2-8° Celsius from the time that a sample is collected from a patient until the time that it is processed for diagnostic testing.
Through the generous support of UPS Healthcare, the UPS Foundation, and Carrier, 20 Elite Universal Thermal Shippers and 396 Carrier SensiTech sample loggers were sent to Belize to be used in the study. The loggers provide the team and local partners the ability to assess the time, temperature, and location of medical sample shipments using current packaging materials in Belize to determine any variances in temperature as the samples travel through the cold chain.
These loggers are also being used in a paired test using the UPS Shippers, which have the capacity to maintain a constant internal temperature for up to 168 hours; this could be a packaging solution for the Belize MoHW to consider.
The data collected from this phase of the project will allow the team to design a pilot program of best practices for implementation that could eventually be scaled in Belize and other low to middle income countries. The pilot is set to begin in the Fall of 2021.
Photo Captions: 1) BVEC personnel receiving the UPS Thermal Shipper at the field site in Orange Walk Town, Belize. 2) BVEC personnel delivering the UPS Universal Shippers and the Carrier SensiTech Logger kits to one of the Regional Laboratories within Belize who is participating in Phase 1 of the study.