Integration of Oxytocin the EPI Cold Chain : what to look for
The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities recently published two resources to support the integration of Oxytocin in the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) cold chain.
The first document is an Option Analysis for the Integration of Oxytocin in the EPI Cold Chain in Mali. The main objective of this analysis is to work with national stakeholders to identify and analyze feasible and acceptable options for the integration of oxytocin in the EPI cold chain and to develop guidance on the operationalization of such integration.
The second document is a Guidance on Elements to Consider when Planning for the Integration of Oxytocin into the EPI Cold Chain. It introduces the pharmaceutical management elements that must be considered to successfully integrate oxytocin into the EPI cold chain and outlines the steps that will help national program managers plan the integration processes and strategies.
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to national program managers who are considering integrating oxytocin into the EPI cold chain. It is intended for representatives from relevant offices of the Ministry of Health (MoH), such as Pharmacy, Central Medical Stores, and Maternal and Child Health, as well as other policy makers, stakeholders, and implementing partners.
The UN Commission has been exploring strategies to increase access to quality oxytocin, including advocating for the integration of oxytocin in the existing cold chain for the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). In most countries, EPI cold chains are highly effective in reaching even the lowest levels of the system. However, they are managed vertically, separately from other essential commodities.
One of the barriers to integrating other products in the EPI cold chain is the perception at the country level that this is not permitted. To address this perception, the UN Commission supported the development of a joint WHO and UNICEF statement, clarifying that countries may choose to integrate other products, specifically oxytocin, in the EPI cold chain to ensure access to quality products.