Pictured above: Nursing students and their instructor during a supply chain training course.
Picture by Kwesi Playe
Building a Strong Supply Chain Workforce in Ghana – The Role of Pre-service Training
This case study forms part of a series of case studies commissioned by UNICEF Supply Division and funded by Gavi to showcase success stories in Human Resources for Supply Chain Management.
In Ghana more than 50% of health facilities do not have dedicated supply chain professionals. Although pharmacists and nurses are responsible for the management of commodities at health facilities, they receive little to no training in commodity management. Ideally, the role of supply chain management (SCM) is delineated to dedicated professionals with formal SCM qualifications, such as certificates and university degrees or diplomas.
In order to tackle Ghana’s shortage of supply chain professionals, an ambitious pre-training strategy was deployed to create and rapidly expand the SCM competencies among health care workers. Pre-service training (PST) refers to knowledge and skills delivered to individuals in a specific field of study before they enter the workforce. The terms pre-service training and pre-service education are used interchangeably and refer to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework.
Exposing pre-service students to key SCM concepts and competencies equipped them with urgently needed knowledge and skills to perform these duties. The pre-service training program led to the rapid integration of SCM modules into the curriculum of health care workers in major schools of nursing and pharmacy in the country. It is estimated that over 14,000 health workers were equipped with SCM skills over a four-year period, without the need to remove them from their workstations for in-service training. The sustainability and cost-savings of the pre-service training model was also enhanced by utilizing local institutions to lead the customization and delivery of the SCM curriculum to a group of core trainers.
The Pre-Service Training (PST) Strategy
The goal of the PST strategy in Ghana was to create a continuous supply of health care workers for the Ghana Health Service (GHS) who were competent in SCM before they entered the workforce.
The objectives of this strategy were to:
The PST program was implemented with support from SWG and SCM professionals. The external consultant attended some of the classroom sessions and completed site visits to provide feedback to the trainers.
Progress and Results
There was a rapid uptake of the PST program in academic institutions in Ghana. By October 2015, an estimated 15,600 nurses and midwifery students (in 104 health training institutions) received formalized SCM training. This exceeded the number of nurses and midwives reached through in-service training workshops and on-the-job training.
“The experience has been fantastic! For the first time in my life, I have been exposed to the real act of teaching even though I have been a ‘teacher’ for some years now. The entire course has been presented in such a fluid manner that [the] majority of us are [in awe of the] different approaches used to accomplish this task. And that can only come from an organized, knowledgeable team of professionals.” Dr. Barima A. Afranie Senior Lecturer and Head of the Clinical Pharmacy Department.
• Benefits to future patients: Equipped with the latest knowledge and skills, new graduates entering the workforce can immediately focus on their supply chain duties instead of taking time to build their competencies through in-service sessions or on-the-job training, benefiting facility operations and, ultimately, the patient. Benefit is also derived when a clinician or mid-wife is adequately equipped to understand the principles of SCM to enable him/her to make management decisions on critical areas such as procurement, ordering, store management etc.
• Cost savings: PST reduces the need for costly In-Service Training (IST) and technical assistance. This, in turn, eliminates the need for financial incentives and participant allowances associated with these interventions, resulting in additional budget savings.
• Sustainability: Because PST is embedded in and relies on local institutions for its propagation, it enjoys a continuity not afforded to ad-hoc IST, which depends on funding availability and management priorities.
• Rigorous knowledge and skills evaluation: PST is supported by national or institutional policies that approve/accredit curricula and specify competency requirements and standards. This helps ensure that the technical content is standardized across institutions while also providing opportunities for program evaluation and continuous improvement.
• Professional recognition: PST offers formal recognition and status that bolsters career paths and can lead to acknowledgment of SCM workers as professionals.
• Rapid mitigation of workforce deficiencies: PST in SCM helps develop adequate numbers of motivated and qualified SCM workers, helping to address the acute shortage of healthcare workers in developing countries.
Accreditation of the SCM courses demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Ghana, health training institutions, and professional councils. SCM is recognized as an essential part of any well-trained health worker’s education and it should be incorporated into all health training programs. SCM is now established as part of the national exit exam for nurses. With the future implementation of two semester courses in pharmacy programs, pharmacy students will also be required to take an exam on the content.
This story was extracted from the original case study authored by Eomba Motomoke. Download the case study here
The PST Strategy formed part of a collaboration between the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the MOH-HRHD, the Ghana Health Service the USAID I DELIVER PROJECT.
The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT (the project), in partnership with ministries of health and other organizations, improves health outcomes in developing countries by increasing the availability of health supplies. For more than 30 years, USAID has been a world leader in providing health commodities to field programs—a critical component of health program success.
Read the full USAID I DELIVER PROJECT Ghana Country Report here: