The nation of Zimbabwe was facing some enormous challenges, including massive inflation and a collapsing infrastructure, affecting both the private and public sectors. It got to the point where staff salaries were being calculated in several hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollars, Proper says.
All of this was having a serious impact on the nation’s healthcare system. There was no money being invested in the procurement of vital public health commodities, such as supplies and laboratory equipment, says Diallo. And there were no resources available for the transportation of products to patients. As a result, qualified medical professionals were leaving the system, and patients were being turned away.
Zimbabwean healthcare providers turned to other donors, including the U.S. government, for essential products. At the same time, they began working closely with Zimbabwe’s government to design a new delivery system that relied on the technique of vendor-managed inventory (VMI).
The arrangement resulted in dedicated transport moving on a quarterly basis, under a “rolling warehouse” concept. Proper said the system was based on delivery methods employed by milk trucks, where vendors are responsible for filling machines. “It’s an old concept,” he says, “but it was revised and revamped for us in public health to deal with, where’s no infrastructure, and where clinics don’t have transport.”
The result, says Diallo, was increased availability of medicines, lab agents and key supplies. In addition, the system allowed for better visibility throughout the supply chain, with data available immediately after delivery.
“Health services were alive again because of that intervention,” Diallo says. “Indicators were turning green. We were able to maintain stockout rates of medicine below 5 percent.”
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