Report Flags 6 Supply Chain Strains

Monday, July 17, 2017

From the Designing Global Health Supply Chains for the Future report.

From WDI’s “Designing Global Health Supply Chains for the Future” report.


Across the Global South, the coming decades will likely bring rapid urbanization, changing demographics, increased non-communicable disease burden, and a rising threat of pandemics. All of these factors will place unique strains and increased demand on emerging market health systems and their supply chains.

A new WDI report, “Designing Global Health Supply Chains for the Future,” proposes a series of initiatives that governments, global development agencies, and those in the private sector should undertake immediately in order to build supply chain capacity to anticipate these increasing demands in the coming decades. (Read the full report here.)

The report, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation), was written by WDI Research Fellow Maeve Magner and former WDI Senior Fellow Prashant Yadav.

“Important shifts taking place in the economic environment, as well as new supply chain technology and business models, represent a watershed moment in supply chains for health products,” said Yadav, who recently joined the Gates Foundation as a Strategy Leader-Supply Chains. “Unless we pay close attention to these, we risk losing some significant opportunities for supply chain improvement.”

To research and write the report, Magner and Yadav reviewed the future trends reports of various think tanks, institutions, and logistics companies. They also gathered the opinions of experts from numerous industries, including pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods, high-tech electronics, and logistics. The two then analyzed the implications of these trends and opinions for global health supply chain actors.

From this research, the authors identified six forces that have the greatest likelihood of impacting global health supply chains in 2030 and beyond. They are: economic growth; shifting disease burden; urbanization; increased patient-centric care; proliferation of data; and, the rapid pace of innovation.

Given these upcoming challenges, the authors posed questions that governments, development partners, and private actors should be asking today, which will enable them to make relevant and timely investments to build and strengthen supply chains of the future.

“We identify questions that organizations in this space should be asking now,” Yadav said. “While we don’t always know what the right answers are, just the process of asking these questions and reflecting on them will help organizations become better in their supply chain design and operation.”

By anticipating and preparing for likely future scenarios, Yadav and Magner reason, those leaders charged with managing their health system’s supply chain can more efficiently recognize and adapt to changing conditions.

Since 1999, WDI has been working to improve healthcare in low- and middle-income countries. A critical focus of this work has been shaping the global discussion on the future of the supply chains that deliver medicines and health commodities to patients, thereby improving their access to quality healthcare.

WDI has worked with the Gates Foundation through a 2015 grant to develop strategies for, and build a common vision towards, more effective and efficient health supply chains.

This report, “Designing Global Health Supply Chains for the Future,” advances WDI’s mission of developing knowledge and capability to improve the effectiveness of firms and increase social welfare in low- and middle-income countries.


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