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Changing Nigeria’s poor access to medicines through partnerships

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The role of supply chain and logistics systems through which medicines and health commodities are delivered to patients cannot be over-emphasised.Experts believe that the goals of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to deliver access to required health services of sufficient quality cannot be achieved without access to medicines and health commodities.

Equally, the manpower to oversee, manage and operate supply chain and logistics systems is critical in ensuring that health facilities are adequately stocked with drugs for accessible and efficient healthcare delivery.

Sadly, Nigeria ranks low on logistics competence evidenced from the World Bank’s 2016 Logistics Performance Index (LPI) report, which ranks Nigeria within the bottom two quintiles, characterised by very low availability of skilled logisticians, especially in mid-level management roles.To bridge the gap, the Africa Resource Centre (ARC) Nigeria was conceived as partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) as a central resource centre to foster, mobilise and channel expertise and capaci ty within the private sector and academia to strengthen public health supply chains across the country.

ARC Nigeria primarily seeks to deliver impact by raising the performance of health supply chains to increase the availability of medicines and health commodities at the last mile-t hrough capacity enhancements of public health logisticians, supply chain process improvements, among others. Therefore, one major focus area of the ARC is to support effective development of local talent pools adequately trained to manage and operate public health supply chain and logistics systems, as well as for private sector supply chain systems in Nigeria and subsequently within West Africa.

Since December 2016, the ARC has initiated collaborations with several private sector companies to facilitate transfer of supply chain expertise to strengthen public health supply chain systems. Worthy of note are successful collaborations that ARC facilitated between Procter & Gamble, UPS, Fidson Pharma and the National Warehousing Advisory Council (NWAC) under the Federal Ministry of Health and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) respectively.

Currently, the ARC is also collaborating with multiple academic institutions in Nigeria, such as, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka and Lagos State University (LASU) to foster educational and research capacities on supply chain management. These collaborations are targeted at strengthening existing programmes or establishing new supply chain management degree and certificate programmes, through curriculum strengthening, faculty exchanges, joint research projects, student internships, and so on.

According to Azuka Okeke, Country Director, ARC Nigeria: “ARC aims to foster more partnerships with universities across the country within the next three years. We are confident that these collaborations will lead to a sustainable increase in the number of adequately trained professionals with practical skills ready to make impact in public health and private sector supply chain systems in Nigeria.”

She continued: “ARC Nigeria’s medium to long term plan to spur development of local talent involves setting up a premier academic Centre of Excellence on supply chain in partnership with local and international universities to ensure even distribution and promotion of supply chain knowledge and research across Nigeria.

“To this end, the ARC is also partnering with the Massachusetts Institute Technology’s Centre of Transport Logistics, MIT CTL, a leading global institute on supply chain management education and research, with proven track-record in setting up supply chain excellence centers around the world, connected through the MIT Global SCALE Network,” she revealed.


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