Day one of the Global Indaba produced solutions to workforce challenges


In the opening keynote address on day one of the People that Deliver (PtD) Global Indaba, Niti Haetanurak, deputy director-general of Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, described the conference as “the cornerstone in the global dialogue on human resources (HR) for procurement and health supply chain management.”

The opening plenary panel discussion that followed drove to the core of the conference and PtD’s mandate in a discussion on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that are shaping a post-pandemic workforce.

Francis Kofi Aboagye-Nyame, PtD chair and program director of the USAID/MTaPS programme echoed the words of Olubunmi Aribeana from Nigeria’s federal Ministry of Health: “During and since the pandemic we have been focused on all that concerns humans – on everything that is people because it is people that deliver.”

She explained that Nigeria has enacted a new workforce policy to take care of welfare, staffing and workforce development because, as she said, “Humans are essential to achieving organisational goals.”

Supply chain management professionalisation is a top priority

“Professionalisation of the supply chain workforce is now high on the list of priorities for so many countries,” said Gavi’s Mwenge Mwanamwenge.

A professionalised workforce is one that is competent, qualified and skilled, and it is this that is the mission of  PtD.

“Continuous learning and adaptability are key so we can build resilient supply chains that allow countries to bounce back quickly from shocks. During the COVID-19 pandemic there were new vaccines and new ways of managing vaccines – cold chain is just one example. We had to make sure workforces were trained and deployed,” he said, before adding:

“We need to strengthen our systems now and not relent to ensure country supply chains are resilient.”

Joe Ruiz of Red Lightning, and former vice president of the UPS Foundation, suggested that country governments have a real opportunity to engage with the private sector: “They have the resources and skills that countries can use to protect people: we need to take advantage of this.”

Skills for the future

The afternoon’s plenary panellists discussed the supply chain workforce of the future.

Edem Adamanov, Medical Procurement of Ukraine (MPU) general manager was keen to emphasise the need to usher in the new era of soft skills: “We’re hiring people with soft skills rather than technical skills. The most important thing in supply chain management is communication – with this we’re able to learn from other people.”

Vicky Koo, global chair of Women in Logistics & Transport, agreed and noted how many young people often lack these soft skills.

Earlier in the day another set of panellists had discussed the STEP 2.0 approach, which is focused precisely on soft skills. The programme – of which PtD is the coordinating hub – pairs private supply chain experts with public supply chain leaders to overcome challenges through effective leadership.

Chair of the panel and founding principal of Health 4 Development, Iain Barton, raised the question of women in supply chain, drawing attention to the untapped potential of female professionals in many countries.

Vicky Koo described how the industry is perceived to be tough while a lack of basic requirements – like toilets – can deter women from joining the industry.

“We need to build infrastructure and provide women with the support they need: childcare is just one example and it is a real reason why women don’t enter the workforce,” said Lombe Kasonde, senior health specialist with the World Bank.

Supa Pengpid from Mahidol University and Inès Buki, Rwanda Country Director, Chemonics made up the panel, which by the end had laid out practical solutions to help the health supply chain workforce adapt to a changing health supply chain landscape.

What’s coming up on day two

The Indaba impulse talks – a participant favourite – will kick us off on the morning of day two. Those at the conference in Bangkok will be treated to TED-style talks from Walter Proper, IAPHL executive director emeritus, Joe Ruiz, vice president of Global partnerships for Red Lightning and Siradol Siridhara, assistant Professor at Mahidol University.

Day two will also see the third of three plenary panels – Professionalising the supply chain workforce: How to capitalise on momentum.

There will also be more breakout sessions, more panel discussions, more poster presentations as well as another chance to visit career square.

See the agenda here and find out more about People that Deliver here.