Strengthening the immunization supply chain: A time-to-supply based approach to cold chain network optimization & extension in Madhya Pradesh

Vaccine. 2021 Oct 29;39(45):6660-6670. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.09.062. Epub 2021 Oct 8.


Expansion of immunization coverage is dependent in part on delivering potent vaccines in an equitable and timely manner to immunization outreach session sites from Cold Chain Points (CCPs). When duration of travel between the last CCP and the session site (Time-to-Supply) is too long, three consequences may arise: decreased potency due to exposure to heat and freezing, beneficiary dropouts due to delayed session starts, and, increased operational costs for the Health Facility (HF) conducting the outreach sessions. Guided by the Government of India's recommendation on cold chain point expansion to ensure that all session sites are within a maximum of 60 min from the last CCP, CHAI and the State Routine Immunization Cell in the state of Madhya Pradesh collaborated to pilot a novel approach to cold chain network optimization and expansion in eight districts of Madhya Pradesh. Opportunities for realignment of remote sub-health centers (SHCs) and corresponding session sites to alternative existing CCPs or to HFs which could be converted to new CCPs were identified, and proposed using a greedy adding algorithm-based optimization which relied on health facility level geo-location data. Health facility geo-coordinates were collected through tele-calling and site visits, and a Microsoft Excel based optimization tool was developed. This exercise led to an estimated reduction in the number of remote SHCs falling beyond the permissible travel time from CCPs by 56.89 percent (132 remote sites), from 232 to 100. The 132 resolved sites include 73 sites realigned to existing CCPs, and 59 sites to be attached to 22 newly proposed CCPs. Both the network optimization approach and the institutional capacity built during this project will continue to be useful to India's immunization program. The approach is replicable and may be leveraged by developing countries facing similar challenges due to geographical, institutional, and financial constraints.

Keywords: Cold chain network extension; Health facility location allocation; Immunization supply chain strengthening; Time-to-supply; Vaccine supply chain optimization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Immunization
  • Immunization Programs
  • Refrigeration*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines