Pharmacy and Supply Chain Strengthening Program in Malawi
The program, a partnership between VillageReach, the Barr Foundation, the Malawi Ministry of Health, the Malawi College of Health Sciences, and the University of Washington Global Medicines Program, aims to increase healthcare access through improvements in the public health supply chain. The Barr Foundation will provide approximately 75% of the financial support for the $2 million initiative.
Currently, billions of dollars of donor-funded health commodities, vital to the treatment of high-burden diseases, flow to low- and middle-income countries (LMCIs). These life-saving commodities often do not reach those most in need due to poor management of medicines, inadequate distribution systems, and a lack of information about demand at the lower levels of the health system.
Malawi reflects many of these challenges. The country faces a growing burden of disease, largely driven by a high prevalence of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Over 60,000 children die annually. The vast majority of these deaths are due to preventable or treatable causes such as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Rural health centers in Malawi face limitations in their ability to support local communities. Many centers suffer from frequent shortages of medicines and other supplies, largely attributable to poor supply chain performance. Malawi also faces significant shortages in health personnel, particularly for pharmaceutical staff: an estimated 75% of pharmacy technician positions in the country are currently vacant, leaving health workers to manage pharmacies and logistics duties.
The three-year Malawi program has been designed to improve health system capacity through increasing the human resources needed to improve supply chain performance and medicines management in rural communities. The program will build systems needed to support improved medicines management by addressing three key elements: training and deploying pharmacy staff; increasing supply chain capacity; and improving data management and reporting of logistics data. During the course of the program, 150 pharmacy assistance will be trained and deployed in rural health facilities serving a population of approximately 4.5 million. This represents the start of reaching the Ministry of Health goal of training 650 Pharmacy Assistance to support primary health care in Malawi.