PtD’s Professionalisation framework central to the country’s workforce development strategy

Last week the Nigerian government took a significant step towards strengthening its health supply chain workforce by endorsing its supply chain management professionalisation roadmap. In doing so it has committed to the country-wide adoption of People that Deliver (PtD)’s Professionalisation framework.

Professionalisation refers to the process of increasing the supply of skilled supply chain professionals to satisfy current and future demand. Professionalisation – and at its heart PtD’s Professionalisation framework – has been identified as the best way to develop a skilled and motivated supply chain workforce.

The establishment of the implementation roadmap for the human resource for supply chain management professionalisation project was cause for celebration by its contributing partners: the Nigerian ministry’s National product supply chain management programme (NPSCMP), Africa resource centre for excellence and supply chain management (ARC ESM) and PtD.

Henrietta Bakura-Onyeneke, national coordinator at the NPSCMP, said, “Our journey to professionalisation is well underway. The Professionalisation framework will help us to sustainably standardise the competencies of the supply chain workforce that have been neglected and are begging for attention, and we’re confident this will catalyse the agenda for increased access to health products and services.” 

A commitment to professionalise the supply chain workforce

The SCM professionalisation framework has been endorsed nationally in Nigeria through the NPSCMP, which has so far completed the first two steps outlined in the framework: advocacy, which involves identifying the project team and stakeholder analyses, and defining the scope, which, crucially, secures stakeholder commitment.

The NPSCMP has adopted PtD’s definition of professionalisation as well as the professionalisation framework’s Library of competencies & designations (which aligns the private and public sectors with standard competencies), the Collection of roles and job descriptions (with specific roles and outputs) and the Mapping of education (which details career pathways adopted to suit local Institutions).

The professionalisation framework feeds into the National health supply chain strategy and implementation plan 2021-2025, which is led by the NPSCMP. Its main purpose is to create a patient-centred supply chain that efficiently and effectively delivers healthcare products to Nigerians in line with universal health coverage.

Professionalising means greater access to health commodities

Nigeria is characterised by poor maternal, new-born and child health outcomes, persistent vaccine-preventable and communicable diseases, and rising rates of non-communicable diseases. Stagnant progress in health outcomes is primarily driven by the unavailability of life-saving commodities at service delivery points across the country. This is underpinned by major gaps in regulating and standardizing the health supply chain workforce as well as a lack of health supply chain professionals.

One of the reasons Nigeria was selected as a pilot country for the implementation of the Professionalisation framework was the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health’s motivation in professionalising its supply chain workforce. With professionalisation central to the country’s health supply chain strategy, the country is well-positioned to design a supply chain workforce that better meets the needs of the citizens.

The NPSCMP’s next step is to establish a body to develop and monitor professional standards for supply chain management professionals in the country. Then the project will be expanded through concrete action and communications plans, cascading in phases to states, academia and the private sector. Given that these comprise independent institutions with unique characteristics, the framework will be adapted to align with each’s specific needs.