In May, we discussed how COVID-19 has strained already struggling health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Social enterprises are rising to the challenge by finding innovative ways to safeguard the medicine supply chain.
We spoke with more than 18 innovative health distribution companies in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Southeast Asia to identify four key opportunities for innovating product distribution:
- Leverage telepharmacies and home or pickup-point delivery. Distribution through e-commerce, telepharmacies, automated dispensers, and smart lockers not only supports social distancing but can also alleviate burden from health facilities inundated with COVID-19 cases. In South Africa and Zambia, eRight Pharmacy is using ATMs and temperature-controlled lockers to dispense chronic medications for stable patients.
- Empower pharmacies and labs with information, the ability to triage, and capacity to test. Distributors are recognizing the role that pharmacies and labs can play in supporting the response to COVID-19. Digital supply platform mPharma is providing private labs with polymerase chain reaction machines and COVID-19 test kits in Ghana and Nigeria.
- Enable real-time visibility into product pricing and availability while maintaining stocks and delivery. Digital marketplaces can offer rapid visibility both in stock levels and price fluctuations and product availability and pricing in private sector distribution channels to match supply with demand and optimize pandemic-related supplies. Maisha Meds offers point-of-sale data and sourcing for pharmacies and has launched a dashboard to track demand- and supply-side factors influencing product availability.
- Strengthen mass authentication and quality assurance to reduce use of counterfeit products. With the distribution of counterfeit medications reportedly on the rise due to production delays, innovators can offer quality-assurance services to ensure authenticity of essential goods. RxDelivered platform in Nigeria connects pharmacists and consumers to licenced wholesalers and manufacturers whose product quality has been batch-certified before being delivered.
To read more, click here to read the article on Devex.com. The article was written in partnership with colleagues Prashant Yadav and Ann Allen.