Summit brainstorms on effective national health supply chain

28Oct 2018
Crispin Gerald
Guardian On Sunday
Summit brainstorms on effective national health supply chain

TANZANIA’S health supply chain system is characterised by ineffective national mechanisms for systematic reviewing and updating of essential medicines, diagnostic and laboratory supplies, a holistic supply chain review (HSCR) report has said.

Tanzania Health Supply Chain Summit chairman Mavere Tukai addresses participants in Dar es Salaam last week. PHOTO: Special Correspondent

Funded by the Global Fund, the report aimed to seek best ways of improving the supply chain performance in the country.

It also aimed at exposing weak governance and oversight of laboratories and diagnostics together with biomedical equipment and supplies selection and their specifications.

Presenting a paper during the Tanzania Health Supply Chain summit (HSCS)  in Dar es Salaam last week, acting director of pharmaceutical services in the Ministry of Health Siana Mapunjo said there was a need to improve the medical supply chain in order to improve health service delivery.

The health supply chain summit was organized to facilitate collaboration among various stakeholders to address Tanzania’s most difficult supply chain challenges in the health sector.

It envisioned becoming  a platform for health supply chain partners to meet annually to discuss the status of the health supply chain and to learn the best supply chain practices.

The acting director of pharmaceutical services said lack of a mechanism to track and monitor consumption trends as well as non compliance with law and guidelines was impending an effective supply chain.

“Poor data on warehouse utilisation, physical storage, record keeping for essential medicines and demand is also a problem,” she said.

Themed; ‘Tanzania vision 2025 and beyond,’ the summit brought together over 200 participants from the public and private sectors in the country and donor partners in the health sector.

The stakeholders wanted to see how they could supply healthcare commodities and invent proper logistics of the health supply chain.

The health supply chain (HSC), a holistic flow of relationships between suppliers and        customers, is all about effective delivery of low cost care, goods and supplies.

According to Mapunjo, there was a need to include the Ministry of Health to prioritise, strategise and standardise essential medicines list, diagnostic and medical equipment in the health system.

“Development and implementation of the universal electronic platform for end-to-end supply chain visibility is crucial,” she said.

Michael Kishiwa, a strategic planning advisor for Global Health Supply Chain in the country, said through the ministry of health, the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, together with Medical Stores Department (MSD) need to institutionalize routine reporting across the supply chain as well as to harmonise supply chain reports at all levels.

“They need to deploy electronic supply chain management tools that will result in better access to information and visibility of supplies for better supply chain decision and improved tracking of supply chain performance,” he said.

Kishiwa added that the MSD also needed to improve cost efficiency of current business and financing models while reducing stock and operational costs.

It also needs to review and update all health commodities and technologies including the standard treatment guidelines and essential medicines list.

The strategic planning expert said the move would ensure that revenue was increased while at the same time fostering efficiency and the availability of commodities due to increased working capital.

He pointed out that the move would also improve forecasting, quantification and demand for products as well as product management.

According to him, the new venture was established to respond to limited opportunities being faced in the country’s health supply chain and on how health care lessons can be shared among health practitioners.

When best practices are shared and replicated by various stakeholders, the delivery of health commodities by both Public and private entities are surely strengthened by improving health-care services provision for all Tanzanians.

By increasing awareness and establishing cooperation between the wide range of stakeholders within Tanzania’s supply chain ecosystem, immediate and future innovations can be inspired and realise to resolve supply chain bottlenecks.

“An effective national health supply chain system is critical for fuelling the nation towards industrialisation by 2025,” he said.

The national health delivery system cannot be effective if it is unable to ensure a functioning health supply chain for timely delivery of health commodities, hence playing an important and integral component of the whole health care delivery system.

It also said that a stronger health supply chain will contribute to a stronger health care delivery system which in turn contributes to the well-being of the population and hence more productivity, less medical expenses and eventually better environment for development.

For his part,  Josephat Sinkamba, deputy minister in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, said Tanzania, like other developing countries, has been putting more emphasis on financing of the health sector on both accessibility and health delivery to the people.

“Previously, the government was the key provider of free health care services whereas private care provisions were nearly non-existent, except for a few faith-based health care facilities,” he said.

“Since then, more efforts in terms of resources mobilization and utilization have been used positively impacting the health sector in general with private sector inclusion,” he added.

According to him, Tanzania spends approximately 1trn annually on health-related expenses, but only less than 10 per cent of that amount is spent on local industries.

The minister revealed that the pace for local companies to invest in the health sector, especially pharmaceutical industries, was not equivalent to the demand in the country, saying that only 14 pharmaceutical companies, which are characterized with low capital investment, hence they are inadequate, the country sources 94 per cent of supplies externally.

“I call upon all Tanzanians with financial capacity to grab this unique opportunity; the government has several times welcomed potential investors in the pharmaceutical industry,” he said.

Zonal logistics coordinator for Iringa, Mbeya and Dodoma zone in the ministry of health, community development, gender, elderly and children Godfrey Binaisa said the supply chain in Tanzania was neither good nor bad.

“That is why we met together to assess where we are and to brainstorm on what to do to improve the current situation,” he said.

He added that a country needs to have clear strategies for improving the supply chain system in order to feed the entire demand in the country.

Binaisa proposed that skills to health staff should be improved to bridge the gap of unskilled as a lot of them don’t have enough skills to render service effectively,

Director general of the Medical Stores Department (MSD) Laurean Bwanakunu said there are several challenges in responding to emergencies including unavailability of a well defined national disaster framework,

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