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New Publication Highlights Need for Greater Public Sector Role to Help Strengthen Public Health Supply Chains

A new publication examines the benefits of involving the private sector in health product distribution as a way to improve patient access. The article, a peer-reviewed commentary in the September issue of Global Health: Science and Practice, highlights how Senegal was able to eliminate stock outs of contraceptives across the country to improve support for family planning – and how the decision to outsource last-mile deliveries to third-party providers, or 3PLs, was a key contributing factor in the success of that effort. 

Moving Medicine, Moving Minds: Helping Developing Countries Overcome Barriers to Outsourcing Health Commodity Distribution to Boost Supply Chain Performance and Strengthen Health Systems,” examines the many advantages to using 3PLs. It also looks at the hurdles that sometimes stand in the way and recommends ways to overcome them. 

MSD, through MSD for Mothers*, has been supporting Senegal’s supply chain reform efforts for the last three years with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in partnership with the Senegal government. The country’s new distribution system is in the process of being expanded to cover a wider range of products including some essential medicines. 

“The success of the 3PL approach in Senegal demonstrates the power of private sector engagement in supply chain reform. It has also contributed to creating jobs and entrepreneurs which is a wonderful unintended consequence,” said Priya Agrawal, former executive director, MSD for Mothers, now director of Vaccines and Women’s Health for MSD in the U.K., and co-author of the article. “Promoting and improving maternal and reproductive health, and reducing preventable maternal deaths, depends on the ability of women everywhere to get the modern contraceptives they want, where they want them and when they want them. As donors and global health advocates, we must continue to support government leaders, and lend our expertise, as they figure out how to make that happen.”

MSD for Mothers is committed to continuing to bring private sector expertise to supply chain improvement efforts in the developing world. To that end, we hope “Moving Medicine, Moving Minds” helps stimulate further discussion among all stakeholders.

Read the article in full here.

*MSD for Mothers is known as Merck for Mothers in the United States and Canada.