"Moving warehouse" up-and-running in Senegal
18 March 2011 - A month after the first deliveries of its new "moving warehouse", health officials in Senegal's Saint Louis district are excited about the prospect of huge efficiencies in the supply of vaccines and medicines to health centres. "It is still early days", said Dr Mamadou Diop, the Regional Medical Officer, "but it is already clear that this integrated system will help us meet demand for vaccines and medicines much more quickly and efficiently than we have in the past." In the past, district teams would come to regional warehouses to collect supplies of vaccines, drugs and other health products, and head nurses from health posts would, in turn, travel to district headquarters to replenish supplies. Due to the challenges of transport availability and funds for per diems, however, the timing of trips to restock was not optimal, leading to frequent stock-outs and the inability of staff at health posts to administer vaccines and supply drugs to local populations when they were needed.
Launched by the Minister of Health and Prevention of Senegal, Mr Modou Diagne Fada, the moving warehouse began operations in Saint Louis in early 2011. Through the system, insulated trucks deliver vaccines and other health products directly from regional warehouses to health centres, without interim stocking at district level. Products are delivered according to the needs indentified by the health centres, with delivery teams able to provide on-site supportive supervision and maintenance of equipment when deliveries are made. Stock management is computerized, with real-time, web-based information exchange between the moving warehouse, health centres, and regional and national storage facilities.
The districts of Podor and Pete are expected to be the next to introduce the moving warehouse system, with further scale-up in Senegal dependent on the results from the first districts to introduce.
The moving warehouse is one of the first projects supported by the WHO/PATH project Optimize to be introduced in a partner country. The overall goal of Optimize is, through collaboration with countries across the world (Albania, Guatemala, Senegal, Tunisia and Viet Nam), to build an evidence base for the characteristics of the supply chains of the future, which are both flexible enough and robust enough to handle an increasingly large and costly portfolio of vaccines.