Partnering to Speed Medicines to Patients

Sub Title
In Uganda, partners worked together to reduce importation lead times for essential health commodities
Topics:
Related Supply Chain Topics
Date
August 30, 2018
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The USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project worked with local government, USAID, and other partners to reduce typically long and inconsistent lead times for importing health commodities from as much as eight weeks to an average of four. This creative collaboration benefitted all stakeholders, most importantly the patients who rely on life-saving health commodities.

Unpredictable lead times for delivering commodities can result in supply risks all along the supply chain and lead to shortages and stockout at hospital, clinics, and laboratories. Lead times are made up of many steps in the process, including manufacturing, international shipping, customs clearance, and delivery from port to warehouse. In Uganda, GHSC-PSM has experienced unpredictable lead times and delays of up to eight weeks for one important step in the process, import clearance, which is managed by the National Drug Authority (NDA). Like private sector companies, public health programs must submit preclearance applications for commodities entering the country and await NDA approval.

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Media
2018 July Uganda Success story Governance
2018 July Uganda Success story Governance
Caption
Uganda’s National Drug Authority customized its management information system used to process clearance applications; now GHSC-PSM and other partners can enter their requests online, reducing the time needed by about five days.
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GHSC-PSM presented these challenges to the Ministry of Health to ask for support in finding a solution. Recognizing that all donor-funding programs had a stake in the matter, the Ministry hosted discussions with NDA and key public health stakeholders – including GHSC-PSM, the Global Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières, UNFPA, UNHCR, and UNICEF – to consider ways of streamlining the clearance process for all. Led by the Ministry of Health, partners identified several key solutions:
 

  • To reduce delays, NDA pledged to streamline the review process for import applications by appropriately limiting questions to only those related to product quality and safety. 
  • Based on feedback from partners, NDA customized its management information system (MIS) used to process clearance applications; now GHSC-PSM and other partners can enter their requests online, reducing the time needed by about five days.  (GHSC-PSM hosted NDA to provide a special MIS orientation with partners to help them make effective use of the system.)
  • NDA agreed to fast track clearance applications for donor-funding health commodity shipments, reducing the process by about 10 working days for medical devices, diagnostics, and registered pharmaceuticals.
  • Consequently, lead time for GHSC-PSM to process preclearance documents with NDA fell from up to eight weeks to an average of less than four and providing a more predictable time frame to use in planning procurement and delivery. 


According to Harriett Akello, Senior Pharmacist at the Ministry of Health, “The NDA MIS has reduced verification lead time from between two weeks to two months to approximately one.”