In order to achieve a robust immunisation coverage targeted at reducing infant and child mortality, the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), in collaboration with United Parcel Services (UPS), has trained and strengthened supply chain leaders in Nigeria.
The supply chain (SC) for immunisation comprises all individuals, activities, structure, resources and planning relevant for facilitating effective and safe delivery of vaccines to those that need them. In developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, SC capacity is inadequate to meet the increasing population needs.
According to experts, to bridge the gap, a strong SC system is essential, requiring advanced technology to be applied, from planning to cold chain equipment, data management as well as distribution of commodities. To scale up the system, skilled and competent individuals with requisite knowledge are needed to deal with the present and future immunisation challenges.
Perturbed by this, and to strengthen the SC leadership in governments, GAVI, in partnership with UPS, a private global logistics company, developed a strategic training executive programme (STEP).
The Regional Director, Africa Resource Centre for Supply Chain (ARC), Azuka Okeke, explained that STEP presents a unique opportunity for Nigeria to develop supply chain leaders who would advance transformation in effective and efficient immunisation delivery.
According to her, “one of the key areas of focus of the STEP training in Nigeria is building strong leaderships at national and state government levels that will drive ownership of health programmes beyond vaccines management.
“National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) through the advocacy support of ARC made a formal request to GAVI to implement the STEP strategy in Nigeria. The ARC, a collaboration between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, (PHN) serves as an advisor to the government on public health supply chain strategies.”.
The supply chain consultant, Magloire Achidi explained that GAVI recognised the importance of investing in skill development for global supply chain leaders, which prompted GAVI to provide health supply chain management professionals and decision makers in various countries.
The STEP training, which is based on an academic framework of professional competencies for supply chain managers, combines traditional learning with on-the-job training, thereby assisting supply chain leaders to develop their problem-solving skills and foster effective team-building approaches.
The Vice President, Member Engagement, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers, one of the sponsors of GAVI STEP training, George Bray, said that becoming an effective negotiator could reveal new opportunities, sharpen one’s focus, satisfy needs and improve relationships.
The Director, Public Health and Safety/Humanitarian of UPS, Kevin Etter, explained that the importance of leadership rings within every industry with leadership seen as a critical driver for success.
“Leaders inspire others, possess decision-making capabilities, and should be focused on the vision to inspire others to the overall goal,” he stated.
Participants at the GAVI STEP training re-echoed how the training has reshaped their thinking in how strategic and efficient they would be in discharging their duties as supply chain leaders in Nigeria.
“The GAVI STEP training has exposed us to what leadership is all about. I have gained useful insights on how to become more strategic, efficient and accountable for my actions in my organisation,” said NPHCDA Deputy Director, Chinenye Ekpemauzor.
The Niger State Immunisation Officer, Dr. Samuel Jiya, stated: “One measure of one’s success is the degree to which one build up others who work with that individual. Team effectiveness happens when there is a clear and compelling purpose, skills that are complementary & mutual accountability. Everybody in a team is important, and that is why we must sustain team relationship.”