A Distinctive Approach to Building Global Health Supply Chain Leaders

February 18th, 2016 | Viewpoint


 An AIDS-free generation. Universal access to quality essential health-care services and safe, effective, affordable essential medicines and vaccines. Reliable, sustainable, and resilient regional supply chains and trans-border infrastructure.

As countries strive to meet short- and long-term health goals, the need for medicines and medical devices required to reduce the global burden of common maternal and childhood illnesses has increased. But none of these goals can be realized without a dependable public health supply chain—the complicated system that gets medicines and supplies from where they are manufactured to the people who need them and are often a world away.

Solid supply chains require strong leaders to steward supply chain function and management. Good leaders provide direction to and gain commitment from partners and staff. They embrace change. They achieve better services by deploying efficient, creative, and responsible people at every stop along the supply chain. Yet few global health interventions have directly attempted to build strong supply chain leaders.

Supply chain leaders must be willing to break from the status quo to avoid supply chain disruption, especially when millions of people’s health and lives depend on receiving the products in the supply chain. JSI developed a supply chain leadership change management framework that teaches individual leaders to initiate and manage institutional change to improve commodity availability.

The framework is implemented in three phases over a few months. First, a group of leaders attends in a seminar to identify supply chain performance opportunities and challenges. Then they discuss how individuals, institutions, and communities might maximize opportunities and overcome challenges, and select a pilot initiative. Each leader returns to work and uses JSI’s supply chain change management framework to implement and manage his/her selected initiative. During this time, they document processes and communicate with other seminar participants to get advice and exchange ideas. In the final phase, participants reconvene to talk about what they learned and if they will continue their initiative—or try those of others in group—to improve their supply chain functions.

JSI tested this framework for state health mission managers in India over a five-month period in 2015. The Lead Lab participants applied the supply chain change management framework in a learning and problem-solving environment. The seminar portion included presentations from local and international supply chain experts. Lead Lab participants learned to question conventional operations and to consider alternate ways of doing things. Participants learned how they, as leaders, might reframe problems as solutions or opportunities and discussed strategies for managing and accelerating necessary change. As they witnessed each other’s trials, errors, successes, and failures, they were able to adapt what worked and avoid what didn’t going forward.

JSI’s approach to supply chain leadership development fosters human resource and organizational improvements within the public health supply chain. It helps policymakers understand that solid supply chain management is an individual, community, national, and international responsibility that will determine our ability to reach global public health goals.

Written by Brian Serumaga, Eomba Motomoke and Rachel Kearl. Edited by Julie Ray, Senior Communications Writer and Editor

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