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Chaotic supply chain bane of health, economic development — ARC

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By Chioma Obinna

A supply chain transformation expert, Azuka Okeke, has lamented thatchaotic supply chains are negatively impacting health, development and economic outcomes in Africa.

Okeke who is the Regional Director of the Africa Resource Centre (ARC) and overseeing healthcare supply chain interventions around the continent in a presentation at the recent SAPICS Spring Conference in Johannesburg, showcased the strides being made in Nigeria to professionalise supply chain management.

The Nigerian -based expert outlined lessons that can be learnt from the successful public health and private sector collaboration that is improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

Mrs Azuka Okeke, Regional Director, ARC.


Noting that a key focus of Nigeria’s supply chain transformation has been building in-country supply chain talent, Okeke said the shortage of skilled supply chain personnel has been identified as a key driver of logistics under-performance in countries.

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“A functional supply chain ensures that health facilities are always stocked above a certain minimum level, ensuring the availability of commodities. Since logistics costs represent 20 to 40 percent of commodity costs, it follows that efficient local supply chain management can help to achieve a significant reduction in commodity prices, too. If less money must go out of Africa to design, plan and implement healthcare supply chains, there will be more left to get medicines to the last mile.”

She disclosed that ARC has spearheaded an integrated centre of excellence model for supply chain and logistics management, to help build more efficient and effective supply chain systems in Nigeria and across Africa.

“ARC, an initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is an independent strategic advisor, promoting collaboration with the aim of improving the availability of medicines and health products in Africa.

“Our model encompasses short, medium and long-term elements to rapidly develop supply chain management and logistics expertise in Nigeria and beyond,” Okeke expanded. “Our key objectives are to rapidly strengthen and scale-up in-country capacity, skills and expertise to meet local and regional needs, and to leverage and contribute to the global network focused on advancing supply chain excellence.”

“Already underway and contributing to improved healthcare outcomes in Nigeria is the capacity-building ARC Academy, which represents the first part of ARC’s strategy and to date enrolled more than 120 participants from government, private sector and academia with several participants now equipped with industry leading certifications from the International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) and other bodies,” Okeke revealed.

She said that for long-term, ARC is actively building coalitions with leading American and Nigerian business councils, government agencies and development finance institutions in order to deliver Africa’s first Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Centre in Nigeria, for long-term improvements across Africa.

The MIT Global SCALE Network is an international alliance of leading research and education centres dedicated to supply chain and logistics excellence through innovation. The MIT Global SCALE Network was formed in 2003 with the opening of the Zaragoza Logistics Centre (ZLC) in Zaragoza, Spain.

The network now encompasses six centres of excellence on four continents, with more than a dozen educational programmes (both online and in residence), more than 55 academic partners, 80 researchers and faculty, 150 corporate partners, and over 1000 alumni working worldwide.

“We must institutionalize the learnings, to ensure that every person in Africa has access to basic healthcare and medicines to live a healthy, happy and productive life.”

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