On the Move: Enhancing Health Commodity Warehousing in Northern Mozambique

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3,000 pallets of commodities move from the old Nampula Warehouse to a new regional warehouse in Nampula
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December 10, 2018
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On September 16, 2018, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated a new regional warehouse in Nampula in the country’s northern region. With double the capacity of the previous one, the new warehouse is the largest storage facility for medicines and other health commodities in the country and significantly increases the capacity of Mozambique’s Central Medical Store (CMAM) to effectively manage and distribute health commodities in the region. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the construction of the state-of-the-art regional warehouse.

After months of careful planning, the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project managed the transfer of health commodities and equipment from the old Nampula regional warehouse over just six weeks in August and September 2018.

The move occurred in three phases – beginning with an assessment of both warehouses and of the product to be moved – and followed by the design of an operational move strategy; procurement of services and equipment required for the move; and, finally, transfer of product and equipment to the new warehouse. Using 101 40-feet container trucks and 25 ten-ton trucks, the project moved about 3,000 pallets. To accommodate the new regional warehouse’s narrow 2.2 meter aisles, a narrow aisle forklift – previously only used at warehouses near the capital of Maputo – was transferred from the Zimpeto warehouse to assist with the move until two new narrow aisle forklifts could be purchased for the new warehouse. 

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To ensure a smooth transfer, GHSC-PSM also provided technical assistance for equipment specifications and optimal loading points, warehouse layout and rack design, and rack installation in the new warehouse. MACSwms, the GHSC-PSM-managed electronic warehouse management software, was used to keep the move organized by tracking inventory movement to the new warehouse. The system was also installed at the new warehouse to print pallet labels and allocate pallet locations for the incoming product upon arrival. GHSC-PSM staff worked with MACS Software, Ltd., the developer of the application, to ensure no historical data loss in the intra-warehouse transfer. 

Ahead of the warehouse opening, CMAM recruited eleven newly certified health technicians to staff the new premises. GHSC-PSM will help bolster these technicians’ warehouse management skills by providing training on standard operating procedures (SOPs), logistics best practices, and the use of the MACSwms software, as well as on MHE equipment and safety. To build capacity for CMAM to implement large moves in the future, GHSC-PSM also developed and shared SOPs documenting the process.

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Now fully operational, the new storage facility will have many benefits for health facilities and their patients in northern Mozambique. The warehouse features a better storage environment with stabilized temperature, humidity and dust; allows for the storage of a larger variety of live-saving medicines and other health commodities – including cold chain laboratory commodities; and facilitates faster inventory and better stock accuracy through the MACSwms. It will also provide more efficient distribution and lower transportation costs for medicines in the region due to the higher storage capacity and the possibility of receiving health commodities through direct international shipping to Nampula.

GHSC-SPM, whose objective in Mozambique is to help develop a world-class health commodity supply chain, has supported the Ministry of Health in running, maintaining, and optimizing the Central Medical Store (Central de Medicamentos e Artigos Médicos - CMAM)’s current network of warehouses throughout Mozambique since July 2016.