Transporting vaccines, essential and generic medicines and family planning products in separate shipments when they are all going to the same health facility is an inefficient use of precious resources. An integrated system for delivering products to the last mile has been developed and implemented by the Next Generation of Supply Chain initiative (NGCA) in DRC’s Equateur province. This report details how the integrated distribution contributed to improved product availability, overall cost savings and more time for health workers to spend delivering immunizations and other health services.
On my recent trip in Equateur province, I supported the NGCA team in the distribution of vaccines and medicines at service delivery points, using only one canoe. One of the health centers visited was Centre de Santé de Mobeka, which is about 305 km away from the provincial warehouses in Mbandaka. The Mobeka health center manager Adonis Mpaka Mamboyo expressed his full satisfaction in receiving different health products at the same time.
“I am happy every time we receive the vaccines and other health products at the same time. This helps me to concentrate only on the clinics, spend more time with the patients and assist them better, without worrying about the logistic challenges to get the health products from the health district or from Mbandaka,” Adonis said.
The health center manager was not the only person who was happy about the integrated distribution of health products, all other health workers, the traditional chief, the religious and community leaders as well as the community members of Mobeka village were happy.
While still stored separately at the provincial level, shipments of family planning products and essential and generic medicines are, under the NGCA initiative, combined with shipments of vaccines. Vaccines only use 5 to 14 percent of the transportation capacity on each distribution, allowing room for other health products. Merging transportation or storage resources can save significant time and resources and improve product availability at the health center level, where shortages often occur. The NGCA initiative shows that it is possible to transport all health products in one shipment – ensuring more essential medicines and vaccines get to communities at the last mile.