In this three part series, Jay Heavner, Director of Knowledge Sharing and Communication at Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), highlights his experiences visiting three countries in Africa to observe SCMS project sites.
In March, Diane Reynolds, Supply Chain Management System (SCMS)’s country director in South Africa,wrote about President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and USAID’s partnership with the government of South Africa to help bring down the price of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in that country. ThisBridging Fund program has been a game-changer for South Africa as it rapidly scales up HIV/AIDS treatment, so I jumped at the opportunity to visit the country and see first-hand the impact of this innovative initiative.
One of the most memorable experiences of my recent trip was a site visit to the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Pharmaceutical Supply Depot near Durban. Although one of ten provincial depots, it stores and distributes an impressive 32 percent of the country’s lifesaving ARVs to 28 hospitals and 600 clinics in the province. Before arriving, I heard about the depot’s dream team who worked wonders to accommodate a large influx of ARVs in a warehouse that was already stretched to capacity.
To understand their achievement, consider the following:
- The depot was designed 27 years ago to serve a population a fraction of the current one and before the first case of AIDS was reported in South Africa.
- Most ARV regimens in South Africa still use three separate pills in combination rather than have patients take one pill containing three different medicines (fixed-dose combination).
- More than 500 pallets of ARVs were occupying 27 percent of the total space in the depot the day I visited, meaning that the staff are managing all other public health commodities in roughly three quarters of the space they used to have available.
- The ARV stock turns at the hub are almost weekly; monthly stock turns at any warehouse would be considered an accomplishment.
The team who runs the depot is a passionate bunch. When I asked how they pulled off such an amazing feat, one replied, “Each person here is a perfectionist. We are the people who have to do it. The implications of not doing it are too great.” Read the rest of this entry »
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