The major theme I keep seeing throughout this course is how interdisciplinary the field of Operations and Supply Chain Management is, and the ability to use and translate a lot of the principles of Operations and Supply Chain Management across any industry. I chose an article that was relevant to a field I have no familiarity with – global public health.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), while still concerned about its “bottom line,” is really in the business of saving lives, reducing poverty, strengthening democratic governance, and helping people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance. There are endless implications that innovations in Supply Chain Management can have on global public health issues.
One particular USAID initiative that seeks to advance the organization towards those goals is the Global Health Supply Chain Program (GHSC-PSM), a project chartered to reduce the burden of malaria in keeping with the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and USAID’s maternal and child health and infectious disease goals. Malaria is the leading cause of death in Nigeria, accounting for 18-percent of all deaths. Functional and efficient malaria supply chains ensure that the global community can respond to changing on-the-ground health needs and evolving care guidelines. Being able to collect, interpret, and disseminate this data to the right systems is critical in assuring that the right products are available in the right places at an affordable cost. The earlier efforts around this issue were aimed at collection and analysis of this data, whereas this recent effort Is aimed at improving the speed and accuracy of supply chain data flows. This is just one of the several operations issue holding back large-scale improvements in diagnosing and treating Nigerians with malaria. Medical drug facilities such as clinics and pharmacies maintain separate databases to manage quantities and locations of supplies. New technology will make it easier to exchange data and keep systems up-to-date and increase the ability to reach those in need.
A major milestone for this initiative was highlighted a recent major partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Xinova (a global tech innovation network) to fund a project that will help identify breakthrough approaches to improve the timeliness, quality and visibility of data for the malaria supply chain in Northern Nigeria.
The interesting aspect about this partnership is that it’s not necessarily a product of solution Xinova is directly delivering. The partnership is about creating a more innovative approach to how better solutions emerge – through collaboration across the best data innovators in the industry. The partnership is in hopes of leveraging the members in Xinova’s network who may already have technologies that could fill the void in the Nigeria malaria supply chain.
The main idea behind the partnership is that there might be some existing technologies people in Xinova’s network that could essentially be modified and repurposed to operate within the cultural, political, and socio-economic constraints in Nigeria. Xinova’s network is global, spanning across four continents. It’s essentially a think-tank, aimed at assessing and developing ideas for addressing major challenges in global health and other fields.
Link to original articles:
More about the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project and its focus on delivering transformative supply chain solutions (from https://www.ghsupplychain.org/global-health-area/malaria):
- GHSC-PSM partners with locals to provide new approaches to strategic planning, logistics, data visibility and analytics, and capacity building, along with technical leadership to strengthen the global supply, demand, financing, and introduction of existing and future malaria commodities.
- GHSC-PSM purchases and delivers health commodities, strengthens national supply chain systems, and provides global supply chain leadership to ensure lifesaving health supplies reach those in need, when they need them. By working closely with country partners and suppliers worldwide, the project aims to promote wellbeing and help countries on their journey to self-reliance
- The project supports five health areas: HIV/AIDS, malaria, voluntary family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH), maternal and child health, and emerging public health threats such as Zika and Ebola, and hinges on three key objectives
- The project supports local partners to forecast and quantify their needs in all health areas, and to strengthen their logistics management and distribution systems, including warehousing, transport, and distribution systems.