Healthcare supply chain in Africa underperforming on shortage of skilled personnel

Sub-optimal supply chains are negatively impacting healthcare development and economic outcomes in Africa, according to Lagos-based supply chain transformation expert Azuka Okeke, regional director, Africa Resource Centre (ARC).

Okeke, who is managing influential healthcare supply chain interventions around the continent, in a presentation at the recent SAPICS Spring Conference in Johannesburg, highlighted the strides being made in Nigeria to professionalise supply chain management.

She outlined lessons that can be learnt from the successful public health and private sector collaboration that is improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria. The inaugural Spring Conference for supply chain professionals was hosted by SAPICS, the Professional Body for Supply Chain Management.

“A key focus of Nigeria’s supply chain transformation has been building in-country supply chain talent,” Okeke says. “The shortage of skilled supply chain personnel has been identified as a key driver of logistics under-performance in countries. A functional supply chain ensures that health facilities are always stocked above a certain minimum level, ensuring the availability of commodities.”

According to her, since logistics costs represent 20 to 40 percent of commodity costs, it follows that efficient local supply chain management can help to achieve a significant reduction in commodity prices, too.

“If less money must go out of Africa to design, plan and implement healthcare supply chains, there will be more left to get medicines to the last mile,” Okeke said.

To this end, Africa Resource Centre (ARC) has spearheaded an integrated centre of excellence model for supply chain and logistics management, to help build more efficient and effective supply chain systems in Nigeria and across Africa. ARC, an initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is an independent strategic advisor, promoting collaboration with the aim of improving the availability of medicines and health products in Africa.

“Our model encompasses short, medium and long-term elements to rapidly develop supply chain management and logistics expertise in Nigeria and beyond,” Okeke expanded. “Our key objectives are to rapidly strengthen and scale-up in-country capacity, skills and expertise to meet local and regional needs, and to leverage and contribute to the global network focused on advancing supply chain excellence.”

Already well underway and contributing to improved healthcare outcomes in Nigeria is the capacity-building ARC Academy, which represents the first part of ARC’s strategy.

“ARC Academy has to date enrolled more than 120 participants from government, private sector and academia with several participants now equipped with industry-leading certifications from theInternational Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) and other bodies. Our medium-term strategy supports in-country institutions to develop an industry-aligned supply chain and logistics management degree and certificate programmes. Eight institutions including six universities are supported to date,” Okeke says.

She said that for the long-term, ARC is actively building coalitions with leading American and Nigerian business councils, government agencies and development finance institutions in order to deliver Africa’s first Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Centre in Nigeria, for long-term improvements across Africa.

The MIT Global SCALE Network is an international alliance of leading research and education centres dedicated to supply chain and logistics excellence through innovation. The MIT Global SCALE Network was formed in 2003 with the opening of the Zaragoza Logistics Centre (ZLC) in Zaragoza, Spain.

The network now encompasses six centres of excellence on four continents, with more than a dozen educational programmes (both online and in residence), more than 55 academic partners, 80 researchers and faculty, 150 corporate partners, and over 1000 alumni working worldwide.

“This is ARC’s long-term plan to build supply chain talent for the continent. We must institutionalise the learning’s, to ensure that every person in Africa has access to basic healthcare and medicines to live a healthy, happy and productive life.  Collaboration with like-minded partners such as SAPICS is essential to achieve this,” she concluded.

Since its foundation in 1966, SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, has become the leading provider of knowledge in supply chain management, production and operations in Southern Africa.

SAPICS builds operations management excellence in individuals and enterprises through superior education and training, internationally recognised certifications, comprehensive resources and a country-wide network of accomplished industry professionals. This network is ever-expanding and now includes associates in other African countries.  SAPICS is proud to represent APICS (the global end-to-end supply chain association) as its exclusive premier channel partner in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Established 40 years ago, the annual SAPICS Conference is the leading event in Africa for supply chain professionals.  The 2020 SAPICS Conference takes place in Cape Town from 21 to 24 June 2020.



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