The Accessibility Platform: A New Tool to Address Supply Chain Challenges

Nisa PatelArticle, News

Today, the global health community is more focused on supply chain challenges than ever – as multi-lateral donors disburse grant funding for commodity procurement, countries need to be prepared to efficiently absorb and utilize these funds for maximum impact.  And, even when procurement capacity is strong, last mile delivery challenges persist. Even the most effective, innovative drugs are rendered useless if they never make it to the patient end-user.

Meaningfully addressing supply chain and delivery challenges will require a holistic, inclusive approach that pulls on the expertise and experiences of diverse stakeholders. Recognizing this need, over ten private sector partners came together in May of 2014 to launch The Accessibility Platform, an initiative aimed at promoting awareness as well as enhanced global focus on the issues and challenges around health product supply and delivery in limited resource settings.

To that end, the Platform claims three key objectives:

  • Raise awareness of addressing supply chain and delivery issues as an important part of tackling the access to health challenge in developing countries
  • Increase knowledge sharing and information exchange through open, multi-stakeholder dialogue
  • Contribute a range of collection actions at the global, regional, and country levels

The Platform’s activities are organized around three focus areas: awareness-building, upstream supply chain issues, and last mile capacity building. The Platform launched its first major awareness-building event in May of 2016 alongside the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva.  The session, Addressing Health Supply Chain and Delivery Challenges: Uniting Stakeholders for Optimal Impact, brought together a wide range of influential players and voices to share the perspectives and a variety of programmatic and political solutions their organization have utilized in addressing supply chain challenges in a variety of settings. The Platform’s partners were pleased to welcome representatives from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, GAVI, the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Interagency Supply Chain Group, and the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent to the event.

Moving forward, the Platform will work to deepen and diversify its network of industry, civil society, academic, and cross-sector actors to help countries overcome those challenges where the Platform can add value. The Platform aspires to generate practice solutions to: improve forecasting and inventory mechanisms to help reduce stock-outs and expiry of over-stocked products; streamline distribution channels to contribute to the arrival of medicines in a safe and timely manner; and, prevent the occurrences of damage and expired medicines.  These are thorny challenges that vary from country to country, and the Platform’s signatories understand that overcoming them will only be possible through harmonizing the efforts of multi-sector stakeholders towards the shared goal of strengthening supply chain and delivery capacity at the country-level.

Nisa PatelThe Accessibility Platform: A New Tool to Address Supply Chain Challenges