Strengthening Supply Chain System through Warehouse Visibility Project

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole

Martins Ifijeh

To address public health commodity wastages across states, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, recently, requested the support of Africa Resource Centre (ARC) for supply chain in Nigeria.

This request was neccessary because an effective supply chain reduces the direct cost of providing patient care, counterfeit drugs and waste, including the availability of medicines, family planning choice and vaccines.

While warehousing of medicines is a critical component of the supply chain for the provision of medicines in any system, all Nigerians states have Central Medical Stores (CMS), which serve as warehousing units for the storage and distribution of health commodities.

Over the years, warehouses in Nigeria have been laden with several challenges including inadequate infrastructure, lack of proper storage conditions, staff attrition, product pilferage, loss of commodities due to poor expiry management, and wastages including little or no visibility in warehouse operations at the federal and state levels.

According to the National Coordinator, National Product Supply Chain Management Programme (NPSCMP), Linus Odoemene, the three key areas needing support are, “warehouse infrastructural upgrade of 31 states CMSs in Nigeria.

“Setting up of a visibility platform in the minister of health’s office to provide real-time online status and performance of CMSs across Nigeria through a monitoring dashboard; as well as instituting a stakeholder engagement forum to foster ownership and advocate for fund allocation to the states warehouse improvement and measure progress.”

Presenting a progress report on the Warehouse Visibility and Governance Project (WVGP), Odoemene said most CMS across states were below recommended world standards, urging them to show commitment towards improving their medical warehouses.

He said: “ARC Nigeria, a partnership of Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supported the Project Management Unit (PMU), which was set up to advance the request of the minister who elevated the project to a special ministerial intervention in developing a strategic roadmap for the project.

“The roadmap was broken into four phases: capacity development for governance and oversight, warehouse rapid assessment, dashboard development and stakeholders’ engagement for warehouse infrastructural upgrade.

“Based on the assessment done, there were nine level-1 non-pharma-grade warehouses, twelve level-2 warehouses, three level-3 warehouses and four level-4 warehouses which were termed as ‘poor systems’ due to its current poor infrastructural state.”

Ranking the average assessment scores per geopolitically, he said South-south region was ranked first with an average assessment score of 75 per cent, followed by the North-west (65 per cent); South-west (60 per cent); South-east (58 per cent); North-central (58 per cent) and North-east (50 per cent).

Responding, Regional Director, ARC, Azuka Okeke, explained that the output of the assessment conducted by National Supply Chain Integration Project (NSCIP) and state ministries of health served as baseline information to determine the current state of the warehouses in the country.

He said: “The tools used for the assessment were existing tools from the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and NSCIP which assess different aspects of the operations of the warehouses.

“In addition, a supplementary tool was developed by ARC Supply Chain team to evaluate specific areas that were excluded in the tools mentioned earlier.”