By kpeuquet on January 9th, 2014

In January IAPHL will be hosting a discussion titled “Oxytocin in the Vaccine Cold Chain: Where Do We Stand on This Issue?” This discussion will be led by Patrick Lydon of WHO, Benjamin Schreiber of UNICEF and Daniel Thornton of the GAVI Alliance.

With the launch by the UN of the “Every Women, Every Child” initiative, and the ambitions to scale up the use of oxytocin to prevent and treat postpartum hemorrhage in women, questions are re-surfacing as to whether the vaccine cold chain could be leveraged to store oxytocin at service delivery levels.

Oxytocin is a time and temperature sensitive product whose efficacy and shelf life can increase significantly when stored in a 2-8 degree celsius temperature controlled chain. Studies have demonstrated that significant loss of potency occurs from exposure to high temperatures during transport or storage, and by the time it reaches the women who need it most. The opportunity to store oxytocin in the vaccine cold chain would have far reaching benefits to achieving maternal mortality reduction goals. But how can this be done in practice? What are the risks? And what is the current thinking from those working on immunization in WHO, UNICEF and GAVI?

On the eve of the 40th anniversary since the launch of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in 1974 by the World Health Assembly, the WHO, UNICEF and GAVI are discussing the possibilities of moving to a more integrated vaccine supply chain as a way to achieve both child and maternal mortality reduction objective that are key goals of the Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020 (GVAP). Perhaps Oxytocin is the pathfinder product for segmented integration if it could be stored in the vaccine cold chain. Before we can get to a point where specific policy recommendations and strategies can be made, the first step is to gather all the necessary evidence available. And some of this we hope will come from you. We need your help!

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Oxytocin in the Vaccine Cold Chain