Supplying vaccines and medical treatments to the people who need them most can be challenging at best. Even the most efficient delivery of medication and medical supplies can be disrupted by inventory management, insecure political environments, and communities affected by climate change-related floods, fires, and outages.
A new award to Palladium by the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria spotlights the importance of safety and security, information systems, and data visualisation when it comes to improving a nation’s medical supply. With financial support from the Global Fund, Palladium will assess Cameroon’s national-level central medical supply institution - Centrale Nationale d’Approvisionnement en Médicaments et Consommables Médicaux Essentiels (CENAME).
CENAME is responsible for procurement, warehousing, and distribution of commodities as wide ranging as contraceptives, anti-malarial medication, and anti-retrovirals to treat HIV infections in Cameroon. Each of these require careful inventory management and timely distribution. Anti-malarials in particular need uninterrupted seasonal campaigns to provide protection to those exposed to infected mosquitos.
Palladium’s team will collaborate with CENAME to identify ways to strengthen the capacity of its warehouse and distribution workforce and systems.
“We’ll help CENAME identify their needs for risk mitigation and new, common-sense practices that are proactive and fit for purpose,” explains Dan Rhodes, Palladium’s Vice President of Supply Chain Management. “I’m excited about this work because it’s all about strengthening CENAME’s capacity, filling gaps that have hindered its efficiency, and positioning Cameroon’s health system to secure future investments.”
The Global Fund has asked Palladium to assess and make particular recommendations on storage facility fire safety. Fires in medical supply facilities have plagued supply chain systems in low-resource countries, destroying millions of dollars’ worth of commodities. Whether due to governance challenges, poor electrical systems, or lack of fire suppression systems, reducing the risk of fires is key to securing a country’s medical inventory.
The ability to track, forecast, and replenish inventory is another critical component.
“Palladium brings some dynamic visualisation dashboards and modules that track data for inventory management,” says Jonathan Gatke, Senior Technical Advisor for Supply Chain Management. “Putting access to this information into the hands of an inventory manager helps motivate the whole workforce. When a performance dashboard is lighting up with new information regularly, it can’t be ignored. This helps the team address potential stockouts and make timing decisions for replenishments.”
The assessment is just a first step in strengthening Cameroon’s warehousing and distribution processes.
Next steps will require financial investments, regulatory decision making, and action to implement improvements highlighted by performance metrics. As stewards of the supply chain, Cameroon will be ready for the next phase of investment.
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