Roadmap signing moves workforce development to the top of the agenda

On 7 June the Sensitisation meeting on professionalisation of the health supply chain in the EAC region in Kigali drew to close with all heads of partner state delegations signing a report setting out the regional professionalisation roadmap, thereby agreeing to implement the activities needed to professionalise their supply chain workforces.

The meeting brought together country representatives from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar.

PtD Executive Manager Dominique Zwinkels said, “Our objective was to make participants aware of the benefits of professionalising the supply chain workforce, the impact on universal health coverage and to help them begin the process.”

“The enthusiasm and commitment displayed from every country gives me great hope that supply chain professionalisation will play a significant role in boosting supply chain performance in the EAC region,” she added.

The meeting, organised by the East African Community Regional Centre of Excellence for Vaccines, Immunization and Health Supply Chain Management (EAC RCE–VIHSCM) and the EAC secretariat, with the support of People that Deliver (PtD), was a significant milestone towards advancing the professionalisation of the health supply chain workforce, at the core of which is transforming supply chain management into a profession of the highest integrity and competence.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, Africa Resource Center for Excellence in Supply Chain Management in Nigeria, the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management project in Rwanda, HELP Logistics and VillageReach also participated in the three-day meeting.

Making professionalisation a priority

Abdulhalim Mohammed Mzale, executive director of Zanzibar Central Medical Stores, is one of those participants keen to implement professionalisation in his country:

“I have observed the immense opportunities that other member states, like Rwanda and Kenya, have benefited from by taking steps toward professionalising their health supply chains. Witnessing their successes has inspired us to explore similar avenues for growth and improvement.”

The document central to the professionalisation of the supply chain workforce is PtD’s SCM professionalisation framework, which offers guidelines to lead states as they professionalise their workforces. It unites job roles and descriptions with education and skills to ensure supply chain professionals possess the right expertise to perform their roles.

Domina Asingizwe, research coordinator at EAC RCE-VIHSCM, said: “More and more countries in the EAC region are recognising supply chain professionalisation as a key priority and this meeting has allowed participants to consider exactly how they will implement a professionalisation agenda in their countries.”

Planting the foundations for professionalisation

The meeting began with an introduction to professionalisation and PtD’s guiding document – the SCM professionalisation framework. Participants were presented with a series of questions and considerations to frame the challenges and opportunities of professionalisation in their respective countries.

On day two participants developed an activity implementation plan to establish a professionalisation implementation team, the key stakeholders and their roles in executing the plan.

The final day focused on the implementation roadmap – the activities needed to achieve a professionalised supply chain workforce – with the next stages clearly defined and to be overseen by the EAC secretariat in collaboration with the EAC RCE-VIHSCM. In the next 12 months the EAC regional policy on professionalising the health supply chain workforce and a harmonised regional roadmap will be developed, including the establishment of a regional EAC expert working group for professionalisation.

The meeting chairman, Oscar Ntihabose, director general of healthcare, modern and traditional medicine, food and accreditations, was optimistic about the momentum created by the meeting: "It’s time to implement professionalisation in our respective countries,” he said.

The beginning of a professionalisation journey

According to Itete Karagire of the EAC Secretariat, “The next steps include partner states developing a list of barriers specific to their local settings. These country-specific insights will be collated at the regional level, and used to recommend policy that addresses the unique challenges and opportunities across the East African Region.”

The EAC secretariat, in collaboration with the EAC RCE-VIHSCM, will facilitate national consultative meetings in all EAC partner states and later in the year another meeting will be held to help participants finalise the development and implementation of the professionalisation roadmap.

Read more about the meeting here.