PtD's chair lays out his vision

Earlier this year Francis (Kofi) Aboagye-Nyame was elected chair of the People that Deliver (PtD) coalition. Currently the program director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Medicines, Technologies, and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) Program implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), Kofi was involved when the idea of PtD was conceived in 2011.  

We spoke to him about his vision for PtD.  

What do you think PtD’s unique selling point is? 

Having been involved with PtD from the very beginning I have seen how the organisation has evolved. Today it is much more than just the staff that run the secretariat and the 30 committed coalition members – it is the network that brings all these together to develop tools, guidance materials and importantly to talk about where we want to see human resources (HR) for health supply chain management in the years to come. 

The best example of PtD’s unique convening power is the Global Indaba conference. The first edition was held last year in Zambia and attracted 250 participants from more than 40 countries, including 60 presenters. The real beauty of the conference was that it united so many different health stakeholders – from governments, donors and the private sector – to address many of the health supply chain challenges facing countries.  

The next Global Indaba – which will take place from 6-8 March 2024 in Bangkok – is set to be even bigger and will centre on the theme: The supply chain workforce: Solutions to transform healthcare supply chains.  

What is your number one priority? 

We must acknowledge that, unfortunately, the vital role of supply chain management still isn’t always recognised within the broader health system. Supply chains are often perceived as an input to the health system rather than a component of the pharmaceutical subsystem, which is an integral part of the broader health system. Part of our responsibility as PtD is to draw attention to the huge impact that HR have on supply chains. We know that when the supply chain workforce has the right skills, is employed in the right number and given the required resources and recognition, supply chains are more likely to be able to ensure sustainable access to essential medicines: this is the central message we have to communicate more and better. 

As our role evolves, we need to ensure that PtD’s management model is sustainable and that, at the same time, we continue to bolster partnerships with the private sector. Above all I see my role as that of technical leader, helping PtD to evolve and thrive over the coming years. 

Which tool are you most familiar with and how does it help to strengthen the supply chain workforce? 

I am familiar with all of PtD’s tools and resources but the ones that I advocate most are the human resources for supply chain management Theory of Change (ToC) and the STEP 2.0 programme. The theory of change and its four pathways – staffing, skills, motivation and working conditions – is a thread that runs through everything PtD does.  

We know that appropriately applying the principles of the ToC, and the skills developed via the STEP 2.0 program – a leadership management tool that enhances the soft skills of public health supply chain managers – directly contributes to improving supply chain performance and increasing access to commodities. This is why it’s so important that countries know that these exist and the PtD coalition and partners have to work with countries to implement them.

What do you think the health supply chain community should be talking about more? 

Definitely pharmaceutical systems, regulatory bodies and local manufacturing.

The role of health supply chains is to ensure continuous availability of quality health products. Unfortunately, inadequate attention is paid to the structures, systems and HR needed to carry out this important service. Over the last couple of decades there has been growing recognition of this and we have seen much greater interest in supporting the strengthening of supply chain functions. The focus, however, has been primarily on the structures and functions and not enough attention has been paid to the HR components; much less attention has been given to the pharmaceutical systems that ensure that the commodities delivered by the supply chain are appropriately used to ensure desired clinical outcomes. 

What we really need to talk about is how the supply chain system interacts and interfaces with the pharmaceutical system to contribute to health outcomes. At the same time we need to consider the impact of pharmaceutical regulatory systems on health supply chains. Strong governance systems for pharmaceutical and supply chain management are essential, while regional harmonisation and collaboration should become a major focus, as should supporting local manufacturing: these could greatly support health supply chains and ultimately benefit the people they serve.