By: Jean Bedel Evi
Antiretroviral (ARV) medicines are a matter of life or death for people who are HIV-positive. In West Africa, the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) is working to make sure people have uninterrupted access to these life-saving medicines. With support provided by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) with four core partners, SIAPS is working in six West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Niger, and Togo) to help coordinate the regional management of medicines and develop an early warning system to identify and prevent stock-outs and wastage.
STRENGTHENING SUPPLY CHAIN SYSTEMS
PEPFAR has made an enormous contribution to fighting the global AIDS pandemic and is committed to creating an AIDS-free generation in the coming years. The effectiveness of ARVs in both treatment andprevention has made this goal possible. However, the availability of life-saving ARVs does not mean that people have access to the medicines. Without an effective supply chain to get the medicines to the people in the right qualities at the right time, creating an AIDS-free generation will remain beyond the reach of the global community.
In West Africa, there are routine stock-outs of live-saving medicines for antiretroviral treatment. Insufficient coordination among stakeholders, the lack of adequate pharmaceutical data for forecasting and supply planning, poor inventory management and storages practices are just some of the reasons for these life-threatening stock-outs.
The SIAPS West Africa Regional Project is working to strengthen pharmaceutical information systems to ensure availability of reliable information to reduce the risk of stock-outs of HIV and AIDS medicines and commodities through improved regional coordination.
BETTER INFORMATION TO AVOID STOCK-OUTS
A medicines supply chain requires a robust logistics management information system (LMIS) to estimate needs, production and warehouse stock levels and the status of all shipments in transit to ensure that these life-saving commodities reach the right people, at the right time, in the right quantities.
No partner or donor can do this alone. A regional approach to generating and managing information is an efficient and cost-effective way to ensure that people throughout West Africa have access to HIV and AIDS medicines and commodities. Regional coordination of information systems provides access to the critical information needed to minimize the risk of stock-outs throughout the West Africa region of HIV and AIDS health commodities.
SIAPS is developing an early warning system to avoid stock-outs of HIV and AIDS medicines and commodities. Using cutting-edge information technology, the early warning system will feature a dashboard that will collect and display regional data to monitor stock, predict gaps in funding, track shortages and expiries, and make evidence-based decisions.
The dashboard helps focus countries and partners to improve forecasting, supply planning, and procurement to ensure the uninterrupted availability of ARVs, rapid diagnostic kits (RDTs), and other HIV-related commodities. The data available on this platform can be used to make informed decisions and identify solutions to mitigate risks for the short, medium, and long term.
A STEP CLOSER TO AN AIDS-FREE GENERATION
Creating an AIDS-free generation is within our reach. By strengthening health systems, HIV-positive people will have the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives. SIAPS is bringing an AIDS-Free Generation one step closer.