Building Healthcare Supply Chain Talent for Nigeria, Others

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Martins Ifijeh

Chaotic supply chains are negatively impacting health, development and economic outcomes in Africa, according to a Nigeria-based supply chain transformation expert Azuka Okeke, who is overseeing healthcare supply chain interventions around the continent.

In a presentation at the recent SAPICS Spring Conference in Johannesburg, Okeke, who is the Regional Director of Africa Resource Centre (ARC), highlighted the strides being made in Nigeria to professionalise supply chain management.

She outlined lessons that can be learnt from successful public health and private sector collaboration that is improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

The inaugural Spring Conference for supply chain professionals was hosted by SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management.

A key focus of Nigeria’s supply chain transformation has been building in-country supply chain talent, Okeke revealed.

He said: “The shortage of skilled supply chain personnel has been identified as a key driver of logistics under-performance in countries. A functional supply chain ensures that health facilities are always stocked above a certain minimum level, ensuring the availability of commodities.

“Since logistics cost represents 20 to 40 per cent of commodity costs, it follows that efficient local supply chain management can help to achieve a significant reduction in commodity prices, too.

“If less money must go out of Africa to design, plan and implement healthcare supply chains, there will be more left to get medicines to the last mile.”

To this end, the Africa Resource Centre (ARC) has spearheaded an integrated centre of excellence model for supply chain and logistics management, to help build more efficient and effective supply chain systems in Nigeria and across Africa.

ARC, an initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is an independent strategic advisor, promoting collaboration with the aim of improving the availability of medicines and health products in Africa.

“Our model encompasses short, medium and long-term elements to rapidly develop supply chain management and logistics expertise in Nigeria and beyond,” Okeke expanded.

“Our key objectives are to rapidly strengthen and scale-up in-country capacity, skills and expertise to meet local and regional needs, and to leverage and contribute to the global network focused on advancing supply chain excellence.”

She said that for the long-term, ARC was actively building coalitions with leading American and Nigerian business councils, government agencies and development finance institutions in order to deliver Africa’s first Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Centre in Nigeria, for long-term improvements across Africa.

The MIT Global SCALE Network is an international alliance of leading research and education centres dedicated to supply chain and logistics excellence through innovation.

The MIT Global SCALE Network was formed in 2003 with the opening of the Zaragoza Logistics Centre (ZLC) in Zaragoza, Spain.

The network now encompasses six centres of excellence on four continents, with more than a dozen educational programmes (both online and in residence), more than 55 academic partners, 80 researchers and faculty, 150 corporate partners, and over 1000 alumni working worldwide.

“This is ARC’s long-term plan to build supply chain talent for the continent. We must institutionalise the learnings, to ensure that every person in Africa has access to basic healthcare and medicines to live a healthy, happy and productive life. Collaboration with like-minded partners such as SAPICS is essential to achieve this,” she concluded.

Since its foundation in 1966, SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, has become the leading provider of knowledge in supply chain management, production and operations in Southern Africa.