Since July 2021, Botswana’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has led efforts to provide COVID-19 vaccines for more than two million people. All vaccine programs experience some level of waste. Based on the COVID-19 vaccines’ short shelf life and inadequate cold storage at the last mile, the MoH anticipated a significant amount of vaccine waste for eventual disposal.
GHSC-PSM supported the MoH in assessing the capacity of the 18 District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) responsible for vaccine storage to dispose of expired COVID-19 vaccines. Seventeen of the DHMTs and the Central Medical Stores (CMS) lacked the needed capacity for proper disposal.
Using data available from the CMS and electronic logistics management information system, GHSC-PSM estimated the weight and volume of vaccines for disposal. Then, leveraging the expertise of the local private sector, the project held a fair and open competitive bidding process and contracted with a properly insured and qualified service provider to collect, package, and dispose of 3,500 kg of waste following environmentally safe protocols.
Although some collection sites were not ready for collection when the service provider arrived to pick up vaccines, the collection and destruction went well. Supervised by the CMS’s destruction officer, the service provider issued a waste collection sheet and a Bio-Hazardous Waste Destruction Certificate as proof of completion of the disposal process. In the future, CMS would “increase the number of destruction officers so that when [one] is engaged elsewhere, others can continue with the process of destruction."
GHSC-PSM’s use of a local, private-sector waste disposal service supports USAID’s localization and private-sector initiatives.