Building a Community of Supply Chain Professionals

June 23rd, 2016 | Viewpoint


Around the world, immature immunization and health supply chains continue to inhibit availability of a variety of health commodities—including vaccines, nutrition products, reproductive health supplies, and general medicines—required to meet the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. Public health supply chain leader and manager capacity must be strengthened if this situation is to improve.

The International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL), as the only association attempting to meet the professional needs of the public health supply chain sector in developing countries, is in a unique position to increase their capacity. Since IAPHL was formed in 2007, we have grown to nearly 4,000 members from 136 countries, and anticipate future membership of 10,000.

IAPHL is possible due to the ongoing generous support of USAID and JSI. This year, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation inSupply project, IAPHL is undergoing a strategic review. We have been communicating with members and the wider international community to explore how IAPHL can be of even more support to members.

Our 2016 member survey confirmed the diversity of our membership and told us more about their interaction with IAPHL. We learned that IAPHL members—

  • work at all levels of the supply chain, with the majority at central and regional levels
  • work across a variety of commodity areas
  • find the news and moderated online discussions to be the most useful features of IAPHL website
  • are satisfied with their membership, with two-thirds recommending IAPHL to a friend
  • mentioned increasing knowledge and networking as top membership objectives
  • would like more training and professional development opportunities.

We also confirmed that members are looking for services that—

  • encourage networking with other professionals
  • provide supply chain knowledge and competency development
  • provide updates and opportunities
  • advocate for health supply chain professionals.

IAPHL is working for the common good by giving public health supply chain professionals the support they need to make health system changes in their particular contexts. In the coming months we will host an exciting range of interactive online moderated discussions (our recent discussion on human resources issues in public health supply chains had more than 100 posts in English and French); seek to establish IAPHL national chapters; and review our mentoring program. We will also work with donors to secure the funding to provide improved IAPHL services into the future as we continue to pursue our mission to professionalize public health supply chain managers from developing countries.

We need your input to take IAPHL to the next level. I encourage you get involved with IAPHL and to invite your colleagues to join our growing vibrant community (

Written by Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown has been the executive director of IAPHL since Feb 2016. Before coming to IAPHL he was the executive manager of the People that Deliver Initiative.  Dr. Brown, a pharmacist by training, is passionate about developing health supply chain managers and leaders in developing countries.

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