In 2014, Africa.com published a list of the 10 jobs that will be the most sought in Africa in the near future. It comes as no surprise that logistics and supply chain management related jobs made it to the list, identifying supply chain managers as a driving force of economic growth in Africa.
After attending the recent Immunization Supply Chain Leadership Conference in Abidjan, I felt that this was also true for the public health sector. The eleven African countries represented were all speaking with one voice: they need the right person at the right place to lead the next generation of immunization supply chains (iSC).
Universal vaccine access is a global health necessity in Africa, as vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the deaths of millions of children. Rightfully, Ministers of Health all over the continent gathered in Addis Ababa in February to reinforce their commitment to expand vaccine access to every person on the continent. Recognizing this goal cannot be achieved without proper supply chains or supply chain managers, conference participants built on this commitment to develop a Call to Action requesting stronger engagement of decision makers to create a favorable environment for long term impact of financial and human investments in the immunization supply chain. They further invited their governments, funding agencies, civil society and the private sector to take appropriate actions at the institutional, strategic and operational level to sustain all efforts made in favor of stronger and more effective iSC.
I left the Leadership conference very optimistic. First, the call for positive change came from the countries themselves. Second, good examples of early implementations of supply chain innovations resonated positively to other countries and provided evidence that innovative systems can have a great impact on performance. Finally, the agreement that even sophisticated supply chains do not operate themselves, but require professionally trained and empowered managers that take appropriate actions, constituted a hope for sustainable and long term outcomes.
The work of VillageReach reflects these core lessons: finding innovative ways to improve supply chains for long-term impact. By working directly with ministries, donors, and implementers, we utilize their dedication and strengths to build the next generation of immunization supply chains to be more resilient, reach more people, and attain local, long-term sustainability. Without the support and efforts of these country representatives, we cannot do our work. Without a shadow of a doubt, this conference proved these countries’ representatives are the true champions for next generation iSC.