The 10th Global Health Supply Chain Summit held in Accra, Ghana brought together over 300 attendees around the theme “Linking to the future of Global Health Supply Chain Management through enhancing the role of the private sector, technology enablement, and workforce development and empowerment.” JSI staff from Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Tanzania, Zambia, and the U.S. made 9 of the 37 presentations given and participated in 7 of the 12 tracks. On the second day, IAPHL, for which JSI—with funding from USAID—provides the secretariat, sponsored a well-attended reception with an orientation meeting. The participants played a supply chain game with the winner receiving an IAPHL t-shirt.
Two of the most thought-provoking presentations at the summit were by Prashant Yadav of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Iain Barton from Imperial Health Sciences. Mr. Yadav discussed the progress that we have made in the last ten years in systems, collaboration, and engagement across public and private sectors.
Despite this progress, there is is still more work to be done as acknowledged by Mr. Yadav. Global health supply chains are too slow—they hold too much inventory—and don’t yet have point of sale or true customer demand data—which is what revolutionized commercial supply chains.
Mr. Barton challenged all of us to think about how the current regulatory infrastructure in Africa, for example, is actually making things worse in terms of product availability, quality, and cost. Africa has 54 mostly small markets that are not attractive to suppliers because of the time and cost it takes to register in each country. If there was Africa-wide reciprocal recognition for registrations, or at least regional reciprocal recognition so products would not have to be re-registered in every country, it would motivate more high-quality manufacturers to register and market their products in Africa. He also posited that the 80% shelf life requirement on imports has inhibited the adoption of improved supply chain practices. Nothing can be prepositioned regionally, it all has to be shipped directly from the manufacturer.
While we have made progress in improving public health supply chains in lower- and middle-income countries, we are going to have to think and act differently if we are going to meet the challenges of the coming decade and the ambitious sustainable developments goals for 2030.
As usual, the conference was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues. All in all the summit was stimulating and I look forward to next year.