The differences between West Africa and Southern Africa are well known, even if partially built on generalizations and stereotypes. There are personality differences, language differences, different foods and ways to eat, different and distinct rhythms heard in discotecas. While regions and individual countries are culturally unique throughout Africa, many share the same challenges and goals when it comes to improving their health systems. A few of these similarities stood out when the Ministry of Health in Mozambique hosted a team from the Ministry of Health in Togo this past week. The Togo team—Dr. Napo-Koura Gado Agarassi, Secretary General of the MoH; Dr. Ayi Hervé D’Almeida, Director of Procurement and Inventory Management; Dr. Amevegbe Kodjo Boko, National EPI Director, MoH, Togo – came to Mozambique to better understand how this country runs its supply chain for health commodities and what lessons can be learned between the two countries.
The Togo team got a better understanding of four innovative approaches to supply chain management and how these changes are having a positive impact in Mozambique:
1. An informed push system for the vaccine supply chain is operating in half of Mozambique. Locally called the Dedicated Logistics System (DLS), this supply chain design has decreased stockouts at health facilities, increased fridge uptime, made a more reliable distribution system that health workers can depend on, and has led to increased vaccine coverage rates.
2. The data management tool for the DLS is built on the OpenLMIS platform. The Togo team got to see how data is entered at health facilities, how the system provides immediate feedback to health workers, and how the easy-to-use analytics can help drive evidence-based decisions to improve distribution activities.
3. Outsourcing transport is being tested in one province with an integrated supply chain of ARVs and vaccines. Improvements in delivery, availability, and more accurate ordering can already be seen from the first six months of implementation.
4. The Ministry of Health in Mozambique is using computer simulation modeling to help better design its supply chain, both with the Central Medical Stores (CMS) for essential commodities and with the vaccine supply chain.
The conversation between the two CMS representatives was like watching two peas in a pod—same concerns for distribution, similar problems and constraints, and the same interest and drive to identify potential solutions for each country.
Yes, there are definitely differences between the two countries. But it was clear from this visit that leaders from each country face similar issues with supply chain management and the design and performance of distribution systems. They also have similar expectations and commitment to have better performing supply chains with more efficiencies and, ultimately, a healthier community.