Yajna Moloo, Resource Mobilisation & Private Sector Partnerships Intern at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
A health worker in DRC delivers a vaccine after cycling to a clinic, highlighting some of the logistical challenges countries face. Photo: Gavi/Evelyn Hockstein.
Getting vaccines to rural or remote areas on time is one of the key immunisation issues faced by governments of the world’s poorest countries. This is partly due to weak existing logistics and distribution systems – known as supply chains – which are sometimes unable to get vaccines everywhere they need to be. What’s more, as time goes on, new vaccine introductions pose additional strain on existing supply chains, even for those that are functioning well today. This is a growing challenge. By 2020, countries eligible for Gavi support are expected to manage twice as many vaccines as in 2010, a growth which is anticipated to increase annual supply chain costs significantly.
This is where the private sector can help alleviate the burden for governments. Since logistics and supply chain management are not core competencies for Ministries of Health, outsourcing these functions enables governments to focus their resources on other areas which are more central to them, such as health service delivery and health systems management. Since private sector companies are used to working with competitive market dynamics, they are incentivised to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, losses and barriers while delivering high quality products even in difficult situations. These characteristics can be leveraged in public health to help strengthen vaccine supply chains – which is essential to ensure that children around the world have access to potent and viable vaccines.
An outsourcing warehouse in Mozambique. Photo: Transaid.
Nevertheless, outsourcing to the private sector is not without challenges. There is no miracle fix; outsourcing is influenced by many factors depending on the specific needs and context of the country. It may not necessarily be cost-effective or desirable in all cases, but where relevant, it has proven extremely beneficial.
To help Ministries of Health and policy makers take decisions for their countries, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance commissioned an Outsourcing Guidance Report for those who are considering outsourcing to the private sector. Based on extensive research, this report explores existing approaches to outsourcing across Africa and the challenges encountered, while providing a framework to help guide governments and policy makers on when and how to outsource appropriately. The accompanying frequently asked questions (FAQ) document provides an entry point for the report, and directs it towards relevant users. This is an example of some of the research that Gavi does to complement and support its mission to enable access to vaccines and to save children’s lives.
With this information in hand, we are confident that decision-makers in the world’s poorest countries will be more able to make the most of private sector partnerships, while continuing to build strong immunisation systems and save more lives than ever before.