The VAN Ambassador who is “dedicated to helping health products reach every last mile”

23rd May 2024

At the 2023 Global Membership Meeting, the VAN welcomed eight new Ambassadors into its ranks. The VAN’s Ambassadors are at the heart of this incredible network of passionate champions for reproductive health. Their tireless efforts to strengthen data quality, streamline supply chain processes, and support government decision making are an integral part of the VAN’s strength.

Among this new cohort of Ambassadors was Jean Claude Kabera, Senior Supply Chain Specialist for the Rwanda Biomedical Centre. Along with a passion for all things supply chain, Kabera brings more than 14 years of experience in procurement, quantification, inventory management, and capacity building to his role.

Rwanda has gone to great lengths to continue strengthening the platform since becoming a Premium member in July 2023 and Kabera is leading the way. We recently caught up with Kabera to hear in his own words about his work with the VAN and how it is boosting supply chain data quality for Rwanda.

Why did Rwanda decide to become a Premium VAN member?

Rwanda is committed to improving reproductive health data visibility and contributing accurate data at the global level and we are using the VAN to help achieve this. As part of its FP2030 commitments, Rwanda has committed to achieving the highest attainable standard of health for all women, men, and young people by providing equitable access to rights-based quality family planning services by 2030. Part of our commitment is ensuring population access to reproductive health services through real-time data visibility and improved family planning supply chain management performance.

The VAN has helped Rwanda boost supply chain data accuracy, allowed for timely reconciliation of inventory data, improved inventory analysis and family planning stock visibility status which helps us prevent waste.

What changes have you seen in your work since Rwanda become a Premium member?

Making supply chain decisions and intervening to make changes has become easy since we became Premium members. Supply plans, order and shipment status, and inventory data are streamlined which helps us make appropriate and timely decisions to avoid stock outs and expirations of reproductive health supplies. The VAN has been integrated into our digital health ecosystem so it can interact with other health and logistics information management systems. This more holistic view of Rwanda’s data helps prevent supply chain challenges.

The VAN has helped Rwanda boost supply chain data accuracy, allowed for timely reconciliation of inventory data, improved inventory analysis and family planning stock visibility status which helps us prevent waste. In the past several months, the VAN data has strengthened supply security by:

  • Helping us detect that one health center and one hospital had recorded male condoms received as female condoms. We were able to correct their inventory.
  • Realizing the consumption generated from the VAN data analysis was always higher than the consumption adjusted from e-LMIS (the electronic tool used by the health centers for order management and inventory management), from here we realized that there has been an underreporting problem and a problem in capturing consumption in some health centers, so we have conducted refresher trainings of hospital pharmacists and pharmacy store managers on the usability of e-LMIS and supply chain management in general.
  • Alerting us during a data analysis that many emergency pills would expire. To avoid this, we contacted local nongovernmental organizations working in reproductive health to help us distribute these pills in many health centers, avoiding expirations.
  • Requesting an expedited shipment of intrauterine devices. It was delivered four months ahead of schedule, thus avoiding stock-outs.

Rwanda is also excited about adding its shipment data directly into the VAN. This extra step will further improve our ability to make decisions and strengthen our ability to provide timely access to contraceptives.

How did you choose family planning and reproductive health as your career path?

I am passionate about ensuring that all populations have access to quality medical supplies whenever they need them. My career in supply chain management is dedicated to helping health products reach every last mile so that people enjoy their reproductive health rights.

How do you champion the VAN in your work?

I provide refresher training to the planners to continue improving the VAN’s usability. At monthly stock analysis meetings, I share responses to data validation tools. At family planning technical working group meetings, I present the benefits of VAN and advocate for contributions to its subscription fees. I strive for its integration within other health information system platforms.

How can the VAN’s sustainability be ensured?

When countries invest in the VAN by paying the subscription fees, they are investing in the sustainability of the VAN. Another strategy might be to expand the scope of other program products, such as antimalarials, tuberculosis and HIV commodities, and provide refresher courses on their use.

With regular data inputs and analysis, I dream that the VAN will help provide real-time data visibility on a global level to help governments with decision making to ensure the commodity security of reproductive health supplies.

Category: Global FP VAN

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