The Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) are issuing a joint call for innovative and transformative solutions to
build more effective supply chains in low- and middle-income countries around
Supply chains represent the backbone of health systems and
when everything works well, they remain invisible to most; however, when supply
chains fail to deliver they become highly visible at all levels.
In 2015, as part of Immunization Week, UNICEF told a story of the lives
of two mothers each trying to vaccinate their child and the challenges each one
faced. One child received his vaccines while the other did not. Each day,
parents, women, men, old and young encounter two different worlds when
accessing health services to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases, to receive
reproductive health and family planning choices or to diagnose and treat communicable
and non-communicable diseases.
In one world, the right quality health products are
available and the individual can be immunized against measles or polio, able to
select her preferred modern contraceptive method, or receive life saving
anti-retrovirals (ARVs) to keep HIV/AIDS in check; each one helps support a
In the other world, the right quality health products are
missing from the health facility shelf or expired/damaged and less efficacious
or even harmful; those individuals miss an opportunity to protect themselves or
their families’ health. These worlds represent two extremes but every day, men,
women and children experience this across the world where the supply chain works
to deliver and ensure quality health products but often are sub-optimal and
ineffective leading to empty shelves or wasted products and ultimately missed
In 2015, Bill Gates stated to The Guardian that the supply chain is often the limiting factor, and
to improve supply requires cold chain for vaccines and temperature-sensitive
products; transport to the last mile; and key information on health products
and what is available or unavailable.
With this call for Health Systems Strengthening: Ensuring
Effective Health Supply Chains,
Gates and USAID seek solutions that are daring in premise and different from
the approaches currently used. The ideas must be translatable to practical
interventions accessible in resource-limited settings and have the potential to
be scaled up or reproduced in multiple settings.
We focus on several areas and seek solutions to one or more
areas: (1) distribution and delivery technologies and approaches, (2) new
channels and designs to access and deliver health products, (3) visibility and
analytics, (4) improve governance and accountability, (5) sustainable capacity
within a country, and (6) financing and costing.
We are especially
interested in applicants and solutions that come from sectors outside of public
sector supply chain, or even outside health.
We look forward to
seeing your great ideas! Grand
Challenges Explorations Health Systems Strengthening call, USAID’s
BAA for Health Supply Chain or here.
The Guardian (2015)