A key part of a strong and resilient health system is sustainable access and appropriate use of safe, effective, quality-assured, and affordable health commodities. Our teams work closely with national and sub-national health authorities, health care providers, logisticians, policy- and decision-makers, communities, the private sector, and other donors and stakeholders to design and implement a mix of interventions for strengthening supply chain systems.
Our supply chain interventions have successfully advanced many countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia with:
Forecasting, supply planning, and information systems: URC has worked alongside key stakeholders to optimize forecasting and supply planning by building local counterpart capacity to use modern methodologies, ranging from complex, statistical-based regression analysis of historical data and development of epidemiological profiles of the population to simple, consumption-based methods.
Procurement, distribution, and quality assurance of health commodities: URC has used digital technology to streamline procurement processes, connect people, and create more transparent and efficient solutions to supply chain challenges. This includes GS1 barcode technology, mobile applications, and web-based forecasting tools. We have helped health facilities prepare for disease outbreaks by setting up an emergency commodity order system with a national agency. URC also has supported last-mile distribution of health commodities to their final destination, such as COVID-19 vaccines, malaria medication, and long-lasting insecticidal nets.
Human workforce development and institutional capacity building: URC has work alongside key stakeholders to develop and implement robust capacity building activities. These efforts have consisted of trainings – including e-learning for distance education – that address all components of the logistics cycle. This includes forecasting, procurement, warehousing, transportation, and distribution. URC also coaches and provides on-the-job training to personnel to analyze causes of performance or quality gaps, create and test improvements, and use data to determine the most effective changes.
Information systems: In 2016, the Ministries of Health in Panama and Guatemala lacked a tool for reviewing supply chain data to support HIV/AIDS commodity procurement planning, decision making, and distribution to HIV/AIDS clinics. URC supported the development of low-cost, web-based logistics management information systems – including the design, testing, and scale-up of the applications nationwide in both countries. Today, these systems provide stock status in real time and – when necessary – trigger an immediate dispatch of commodities.
Commodity quality assurance: In Uganda, URC analyzed the availability of essential medicines at service delivery points and involved district medicines management teams (DMMTs) to identify and respond to key challenges. One key bottleneck: delays in placing accurate orders. Guided by its quality improvement methodology, URC supported the DMMTs to set up a two-way mechanism for providing guidance and mentoring to district focal persons and cold chain technicians on completing requests and orders. As a result, the order rate and timeliness for essential medicines improved from 40% to 90% in just one year, contributing to the reduced stock out for HIV, TB, laboratories, malaria, and family planning commodities.
Governance and leadership: Using the Usapang Dibdiban approach – a comprehensive discussion with local government executives – the USAID TB Platforms Project in the Philippines supported local government unit supply chain activities by empowering TB coordinators to advocate for increased resources in their municipalities. TB coordinators held 11 Usapang Dibdiban sessions in 2020, which helped to more than double local allocations in support of TB related procurements from 2.9 to 6.2 million pesos in approximately one year.