The Lancet‘s editorial No health workforce, no global health security links the health workforce to global health security. Ironically, while borrowing two well-established concepts that originated in the health commodities supply chain field (No Product, No Program, and Contraceptive Security), nowhere does the editorial mention the essential need for health products to achieve global health security. Contraceptive security was conceived and launched by JSI and other partners 15 years ago as a global initiative to call attention to the need to plan and act more effectively at both the global and country level for the reliable availability of contraceptives as critically important health products. It was patterned after the concept of food security, in which governments and funders come together to prevent, detect, and respond to issues around food availability and famine. That early contraceptive security work has lead to broader health commodity security efforts, particularly for medicines and medical supplies to diagnose and treat HIV, TB, malaria. Recently the issue of vaccine security has been raised, especially at the global level in relation to shortages of Yellow Fever, DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus Toxoid, and Acellular Pertussis) and other critical vaccines. Global health security is impossible without health commodity security, in which every person is able to obtain and use quality health products whenever they need them.
One of the reasons for health commodity insecurity is the weakness of in-country supply chains, in which the health resource gap for talented and effective supply chain management is just as acute as it is for doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. In fact, many low-income countries rely on pharmacists–already in short supply–to manage pharmaceutical supply chains, even though they have little training to do so.
Supply chain is a recognized and valued profession in the commercial sector, and must be seen as such in the health sector. Doctors must respect and value their supply chain colleagues, who must have the skills to diagnose and treat supply chain problems as effectively as the doctors must diagnose and treat disease and other health conditions. Experienced and skilled professionals are essential to supply chain effectiveness, which is essential to health commodity security, which is essential to global health security. In other words, No People, No Product, No Program, No Security!