THE ROLE OF FELLOWSHIPS IN TRANSFORMING PUBLIC HEALTHCARE SUPPLY CHAINS IN AFRICA
Fellows seconded to the ARC Solution Centre team from the private sector provide technical assistance to develop capacity within ministries of health.
Sub-Saharan Africa carries about 24 per cent of the world’s disease burden in both human and financial costs. The supply chains that support public health services are run by government entities mandated to ensure the availability of health products at the last mile.
However, these entities continue to experience numerous challenges in building efficient supply chains to ensure health delivery for all, including:
- Poor supply chain infrastructure.
- Lack of effective and efficient supply chain planning.
- Fragmentation of partners working on these supply chains. Limited access to private sector best practices.
- Outdated supply chain policies and strategies.
Furthermore, some of these public health supply chains are led by people whose core training and professions are not necessarily in the field of supply chain. For example, in West and Central Africa, pharmacists lead most public health supply chain activities.
THE ROLE PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNERS CAN PLAY
Given the limited public sector resources, the private sector plays a significant role in healthcare service delivery in Africa. The World Bank reports that about 60 per cent of healthcare financing on the continent comes from private sources, and about 50 per cent of total health expenditure goes to private providers.
Private sector supply chains tend to outperform their public sector equivalents, whether in healthcare or other sectors. This performance can be attributed to the private sector’s ability to finance and undertake supply chain transformation projects with agility. This has kept them competitive in their industries and enabled them to attain their growth objectives.
FELLOWSHIP SUCCESSES DEMONSTRATE THE VALUE OF PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNERSHIPS
In West Africa, ARC has managed, through fellowships, to support several programmes in Senegal, Togo and Mauritania since 2016. To date, ARC has received four cycles of fellows: three from MSD (2017, 2018 and 2019) and one from Pfizer (2018).
Fellows are seconded to work directly within government institutions, such as national medical stores and medicine regulation agencies, to provide targeted support in finding and implementing solutions to address the challenges faced in public health supply chains.
Some of the focus areas of the fellowships over the three years have included:
- Stock management.
- Process improvement.
- Quality management and continuous improvement systems. Implementation of good pharmaceutical practices.