Harmonizing Stockout Indicators
This SSWG workstream revisits how we, as a community, define the concept of stockouts, gather the information needed to measure them, and choose to put that knowledge to appropriate use. The purpose is to propose an approach to how we measure stockouts and availability so that the results better quantify the occurrence and impact of stockouts, can be universally interpreted, can be used for advocacy, and are used to measure progress. After a two year consultative process engaging countless members of the community, the production of the reference sheets and final report are available for download.
The indicators now figure prominently in the Coalition’s campaign to resolve stockouts, Take Stock. More information on the campaign can be found here.
A Business Approach to Transforming Public Health Supply Systems
At its June 2013 meeting, a small group within the SSWG formed to examine what functioning supply chains in global health look like. A brief entitled “Envisioning the future of public health supply chains” has been drafted and looks at the range of supply chain options available to supply chain managers. The brief is centered on the theme that governments must see themselves as stewards who guide and provide governance for functioning supply systems but who must also embrace the diversity of supply chains and the players involved. The final draft was published in July 2014 and is available for download.
Started in 2005, the Coordinated Assistance for Reproductive Health Supplies (CARhs) group is the Coalition’s flagship partnership of donors collaborating to promote country ownership of supply management through increased supply chain visibility and coordination in order to prevent and resolve contraceptive supply crises. At its monthly meetings, the group identifies pending supply shortages or overstocks, tries to understand their cause, develops solutions, and if possible, applies these solutions. Core member-organizations of CARhs include the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) New York, UNFPA Copenhagen, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, West African Health Organization (WAHO), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Coalition Secretariat. CARhs’ members coordinate closely with other donors and implementing partners including the World Bank, the KfW banking group, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Marie Stopes International, and Crown Agents.
The Coordinated Supply Planning (CSP) group of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition was formed based on a need identified during a meeting of the System Strengthening Working Group in October 2012. The overarching objective of the group is to improve supply chain coordination for family planning commodities through continuous, collaborative development of forecasts and supply plans amongst the major donors and the countries they support.
Through the Innovation Award workstream, the SSWG seeks to collect, share, and highlight best practices and innovation in systems strengthening and supply chains. SSWG members are exploring various award programs and partnership opportunities that currently exist with the aim of showcasing innovation through the Coalition’s diverse and far-reaching network. In October 2013, Yulia Johansen of Crown Agents was appointed to the World Bank Institute Procurement Innovation Challenge’s Committee of Advisors. Plans for another round of awards for the Procurement Innovation Challenge are currently on hold.
Professional Development of Supply Chain Managers
The Coalition recognizes the importance of an effective and functional supply chain to assure the availability of reproductive and other health supplies. The Coalition has developed this workstream to respond to the limited functionality of supply chains in developing countries attributable to the lack of professionalization in supply chain management. This lack of professionalization is characterized by limited technical expertise, limited formal educational qualifications for supply chain managers, lack of recognition that technical skills are necessary for good supply chain management, and general disempowerment of supply chain managers within developing country institutions. The status of developing country supply chain managers stands in marked contrast to their status in developed countries, where advanced technical skills and qualifications are deemed critical to effective decision making and success. While this workstream is no longer a standalone activity, the Coalition supported the development of People that Deliver, and has funded a series of Innovation Fund grants to members working in this area.
Optimizing the Supply Chain: A User’s Guide to Supply Chain Software
The Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, with the help of USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, published an analysis of six public-domain software applications currently in use to manage supply chain functions. The applications include CHANNEL, Country Commodities Manager (CCM), PipeLine, Quantimed, Reproductive Health Interchange (RHI), and Supply Chain Manager.
Commissioned by the Coalition’s Systems Strengthening Working Group, Optimizing the Reproductive Health Supply Chain: A User’s Guide to Software is designed to help reproductive health supply chain managers make better-informed decisions when selecting software. Authored by a team of experts affiliated with the Supply Chain Management Center at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, the users-guide can be downloaded by clicking here.
Many essential reproductive health (RH) medicines and devices are off-patent and are being manufactured by suppliers throughout the world. These suppliers, including manufacturers of lower-priced generic versions of namebrand medicines, have an important role to play in meeting the need for RH supplies. Low- and middle-income countries that procure RH supplies, particularly within their public sector programs, assume responsibility for ensuring product quality, even in the absence of robust regulatory authorities.
Reproductive Health Supplies in Emergency Settings
When people are forced to flee due to conflict or natural disasters, reproductive health (RH) needs are often a forgotten part of the emergency response, even though the needs are very high. Family planning, in particular is often not seen as a priority and many humanitarian agencies do not include RH supplies in their supply chains. SSWG member Marie Stopes International and the RAISE Initiative received an Innovation Fund award to examine the supply chain for three different projects supporting the provision of reproductive health services in emergency settings. Results were used to identify appropriate action at the international, national and local levels, which might include increasing technical knowledge of supply chain management, advocacy towards key RH actors to ensure supplies reach conflict affected settings, or the creation of easy to use tools for humanitarian NGOs looking to implement RH programs in conflict settings.