Access to medicines and health commodities is one of six major building blocks of an effective health system, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Little wonder the role of supply chain and logistics systems through which medicines and medical commodities are delivered to the last mile cannot be overemphasized.
The goal of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to deliver access to required health services of sufficient quality cannot be achieved without access to medicines and health commodities. Also, the workforce needed to oversee, and operate supply chain, and logistics systems become paramount. Functional supply chain systems manned by capable logisticians across tiers ensure health facilities are adequately stocked always, guaranteeing the availability of commodities and access to healthcare at the last mile.
Recent studies show that Nigeria ranks low on logistics competence evidenced by the World Bank’s 2016 Logistics Performance Index (LPI) report. The report also lists Nigeria within the bottom two quintiles, characterized by the very low availability of skilled logisticians, especially in mid-level management roles.
To reverse this trend, the Africa Resource Centre for Supply Chain (ARC) Nigeria, conceived a partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) – to foster, mobilize and channel expertise and capacity within the private sector and academia to strengthen public health supply chains across the country.
ARC Nigeria primarily delivers impact by raising the performance of health supply chains to increase the availability of medicines and health commodities at the last mile – through capacity enhancements of public health logisticians, supply chain process improvements, among others.
A major focus area of the ARC is to support active development of local talent pools adequately trained to manage and operate public health supply chain and logistics systems, as well as for private sector supply chain systems in Nigeria and subsequently within West-Africa.
ARC Nigeria is fostering a supply chain revolution in Nigeria by facilitating local and international partnerships to promote in-country capacity for sustainable supply chain Education, Research, and Innovation.
Currently, ARC Nigeria is collaborating with multiple academic institutions in Nigeria, such as, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka and Lagos State University (LASU) –to tap into as well as foster educational and research capacities on supply chain management.
These collaborations are targeted at strengthening existing programs or establishing new supply chain management degree and certificate programs, through curriculum strengthening, faculty exchanges, joint research projects, student internships, etc.
According to Azuka Okeke, Regional Director, ARC, “ARC aims to foster more partnerships with universities across the country within the next three years. We are confident that these collaborations will lead to a sustainable increase in the number of adequately trained professionals with practical skills ready to make an impact in public health and private sector supply chain systems in Nigeria.”
She continued: “ARC Nigeria’s medium to long-term plan to spur development of local talent involves setting up a premier academic Center of Excellence on the supply chain in partnership with local and international universities to ensure even distribution and promotion of supply chain knowledge and research across Nigeria.
“The ARC Nigeria is also partnering with the Massachusetts Institute Technology’s Centre of Transport Logistics, MIT CTL, a leading global institute on supply chain management education and research, with proven track-record in setting up supply chain excellence centers around the world, connected through the MIT Global SCALE Network. “
Since December 2016, the ARC has initiated collaborations with several private sector companies to facilitate the transfer of supply chain expertise to strengthen public health supply chain systems.
Worthy of note are successful collaborations that the ARC facilitated between Proctor & Gamble, UPS, Fidson Pharma and the National Warehousing Advisory Council (NWAC) under the Federal Ministry of Health and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) respectively.