More than checking the room’s temperature

22 Nov 2022

Did you know that the majority of sexual and reproductive health supplies are time and temperature sensitive?

UNFPA Product Quality Assurance colleagues are closely monitoring the temperature of sexual and reproductive health supplies to deliver safe choices to women and girls. This activity is key to ensuring supplies are effective and safe and also to avoiding the deterioration of essential SRH products. 

Inadequate shipping and storage conditions can lead to loss of efficacy and/or the production of harmful chemicals. For example, a key commodity for maternal health is oxytocin, which is used to treat postpartum hemorrhage and should be maintained at 2-8 °C. Not keeping it cold might lead to needless loss of life for approximately 5% of women suffering from this condition every year.

Amongst the most sensitive supplies are pharmaceuticals, contraceptives and sterile medical devices, as well as in-vitro diagnostic devices. If the temperatures are not kept within defined temperature limits, they could become ineffective or harmful to others. To assure and record this, data loggers are placed in temperature-controlled reefer boxes or containers in the shipments and travel along with different deliveries. This information is available to the team to assess any risk of temperature excursions.

UNFPA relies on stability studies data supplied by manufacturers to decide whether or not to reject products that have been exposed to sub-optimal temperatures. The team considers the temperature and the duration of exposure to reach a conclusion on the quality of the products. In most cases, there may be no visible signs of deterioration, which is why it is critical to monitor the temperature. Already in 2022, the team deployed more than 300 loggers to monitor the quality of supplies to the last mile of delivery. 

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