Last week, UNICEF hosted a meeting where experts with a combined 1,000 years of practice in cold chain maintenance discussed some of the current challenges and opportunities related to cold chain maintenance and temperature monitoring at the country level. This blog highlights some of the key themes that came out of the meeting.
No matter how complex the computer modeling, no matter how well-automated the processes, no matter how ingenious the machine learning, a computer can’t predict when a medicine’s dispensing protocol changes, or anticipate how quickly or completely new product or regimen uptake will occur. What we have learned over the years, beyond the importance of data visibility and analysis, is that human practice controls medicine dispensing and ultimately demand. Computers can’t, in actuality, do all the work.
inSupply convened 30 county-level public health leaders from 10 counties and their national partners in Machakos, Kenya to launch the IMPACT Team Network approach for collaboratively solving supply chain problems through teamwork, data analysis, and continuous improvement.
Immunization supply chains managers should be thinking about how to use new technology and innovative ideas to deliver more product, faster, and at a lower cost. We aren’t looking for Amazon Prime and delivery in an hour (although that would be nice). What is needed, though, is a reliable and efficient supply chain system that guarantees that all children can be immunized.
We need funding and investments in the supply chains that get nets to communities, diagnostics tools to practitioners, entomology supplies to researchers, insecticides and equipment to spray programs, and medicines to clients, wherever and whenever they are needed. Investments in supply chain strengthening contribute to greater product availability, preventing, diagnosing, and treating malaria, and ultimately in malaria case outcomes. Supply chain strengthening remains a critical component of the global malaria agenda.
Blockchain is the hot new technology topic in the financial world, the health sector, and the supply chain industry. It has a variety of applications in health, not least of which are medicine traceability and patient data management. This is just as true for the US domestic health sector as it is for health systems in low- and middle-income countries.
Having deployed OpenLMIS in three countries, JSI has experienced first-hand how dynamic the environment is. A more modular version with plug and play features will provide much needed flexibility to meet the evolving demands of tomorrow’s health supply chains.
Procuring medicines does not make them available to clients at the last mile; functioning and fully funded public health supply chains are essential to delivering health supplies for all. An international cost analysis has shown that, on average, an additional 12–25 percent over and above the cost of essential medicines is needed to deliver them to the last mile. The cost of the public health supply chain is an essential consideration for health planning and results-based budgeting.
Procuring medicines is not enough to make them available to the last mile. When functioning and fully funded public health supply chains are in place, the population, especially the most vulnerable, will receive the medicines when and where they need them.
When we first started this work (in Ethiopia) about seven years ago, when customers came to a warehouse in search of their medicines, the pharmacist had to run down to the warehouse to check if they had an item (it took too long to find the stock card). Now they can access the data the same way as my Walgreens pharmacist can. And they can look to see if the stock is available at any of the other warehouses (even if the nearest location might be a day away).