Dispatch from Dakar: Edward Wilson’s takeaways from the Global Health Supply Chain Summit

December 9th, 2022 | viewpoint


Last week, I joined over 300 supply chain colleagues from around the world in Dakar, Senegal for the 15th Global Health Supply Chain Summit. It was, as always, a great opportunity for us to connect in person and to learn, challenge, and forge new partnerships.

JSI, IAPHL, and our affiliate inSupplyHealth were well represented, and shared examples of our end-to-end systems approach to transforming health supply chains to save lives and support local solutions.

The theme this year, “Re-Imagining Health Supply Chain and Systems for Equity, Resiliency, and Country Ownership,” was timely. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the long-standing challenges with which national governments and the global community grapple as we strive for more equitable and resilient health supply chains and services.

Over the course of the conference, five things stood out:

  1. Moving manufacturing to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). There is considerable momentum for and commitment to expanding manufacturing to SSA. Amadou Sall opened the summit by describing the Institut Pasteur de Dakar’s path in vaccine manufacturing beginning in 1936, and highlighting the capabilities within the region and the benefits of manufacturing more in it.

    While this move and expansion is important, it requires a conducive environment to succeed. Ultimately, it is a business decision for manufacturers. If demand is not evident, regulatory hurdles too high, or financing too onerous, they won’t do it.
  2. Collaborate across public, private, and nongovernmental organization sectors to improve performance, provide equitable access to health products and services, and increase agility and resilience. The public sector has a critical role in stewarding health services, creating a conducive policy and regulatory environment, and holding itself and others accountable for results. Matiko Machagge from inSupplyHealth presented a case study that highlighted the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s role in leveraging the total market to introduce DMPA-SC as a contraceptive option.
  3. Data visibility and use remain high priorities, especially in this era of global trade shocks and supply chain challenges. Countries are creating and testing their data visibility and use solutions based on their needs and circumstances. An example from my colleague Moussa Ly described PMI Measure Malaria’s activities to enhance health provider use of data through dashboards and scorecard mobile apps that monitor health services and commodities.
  4. Fostering innovation in Africa: Local innovators recognize that public/private collaboration requires patience but when done well, provides market opportunities. One example is mPharma, which operates hospital pharmacies for the MOH in Gabon.A lingering question in the public/private partnership discussion is how to guarantee equity and the private sector’s role in reaching lower income and marginalized populations. African innovators are well positioned to reach these populations but they first must build a market and expand revenue.
  5. The last mile (or meter) continues to be a focus. The importance of last-mile patient engagement, delivery, and service was evident throughout the conference, from community-based tools to capture demand and supply, to mobile apps to help health facilities understand and improve their performance, to distribution models such as using drones to deliver to difficult-to-reach areas.

The world has changed since the onset of COVID-19, and in many ways for the better. As we saw this year at the summit, there is an increasing emphasis on making the entire supply chain more resilient, equitable, patient-focused, and responsive to local needs and circumstances. The area that I believe needs the most work is finding ways to strengthen national government and funder alignment on priorities and accountability for resource provision. The enthusiastic engagement in these conversations gives me hope that we will make progress in the coming year.

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