Background: Well-functioning health supply chains are critical to provision of health services in all countries. Achieving good health outcomes requires supply chains that provide consistently high availability of affordable, high quality products in a location that is geographically accessible to the target population. Further, these supply chains must be adaptable, cost effective and have financial integrity in order to sustain good outcomes. Supply chain performance is much poorer and more variable in low and middle income countries. Recognizing the need to bring better and more leverage innovation to the management of LMIC health supply chains, the Global Health Supply Chain Summit (GHSCS) was first launched in 2008. Annually, it brings together relevant stakeholders from governments, NGOs, international organizations, bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies, academics, and practitioners for a two-day event to discuss supply chain innovation strategies to improve health outcomes. Specifically, the annual event has three main objectives:  a) to create a forum for the relevant stakeholders to openly share and discuss challenges, solutions, and best practices; b) to influence the research agenda of academics from leading institutions worldwide around relevant healthcare supply chain issues; and c) to create a community of healthcare supply chain thinkers, funders, policy makers, academics, and practitioners.

The first three summits (2008-10) were organized by MIT/Zaragoza and took place in Zaragoza, Spain.  The fourth summit took place at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (USA). Subsequently, the organizers decided to host the summit in the African continent. The fifth and sixth summits were held respectively in Kigali (Rwanda) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).  The 2014 summit, originally scheduled to be held in West Africa, had to be relocated due to the Ebola epidemic and was held in Copenhagen (Denmark), hosted at UNICEF. The 2015 summit was held in Dakkar, Senegal and 2016 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. At the 2017 summit we will celebrate our 10th anniversary in Accra, Ghana.

Structure: Annually the summit attracts participants from the public sector, the private sector, academicians, practitioners, donor organizations and foundations.  Attendance at this annual summit has been steadily growing and has reached around 250 people. Topics of discussion in the past events have included areas like:

  • Private public interactions in the health supply chains and outsourcing
  • Innovations in the Health Supply Chains
  • Donors coordination and cooperation and incentive alignment in health supply chains
  • Information Systems for Global Health Systems
  • Performance measurement

Typical format of the summit includes keynote talks as well as sessions clustered around specific themes. Keynote speakers usually includes host country ministry of health representatives as well as speakers from leading institutions like the WHO, the Gates Foundation, GAVI, UNICEF, DFID, leading academic institutions, etc.

Motivated by the need of a segment of the summit attendees, the GHSCS introduced optional educational sessions on day 3 of the summit covering fundamental supply chain topics like forecasting, warehouse management and inventory control.  These sessions have been accepted with great enthusiasm and success and attended by close to 70 percent of the conference attendees.

Despite the enormous challenges organization in these resource constrained settings, we see stories of remarkable success in improving health delivery and outcomes that leverage partnerships between organizations, and in cooperation with governments, NGOs and donors, deploying innovative and appropriate technology and human resource practices. To recognize healthcare supply chain excellence in low and low-middle income countries, an award was instituted at the 7th Global health Supply Chain Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, November 17-19, 2014, which is now recognized annually.

Partial List of organizations represented in past summits

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Bioforce Institute; Clinton Health Access Initiative; Crown Agents; Dimagi, Inc.; HLA/ Centers for Disease Control & Prevention; GAVI; Imperial Health Sciences; Intra health International; John Hopkins University; JSI; I + solutions; Llamasoft; London School of Business; Merck for Mothers; PATH; People that Deliver; PFSCM; Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center; Purdue University; SCMS; SIAPS; Tata Consultancy Services; UNFA; United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities; University of Michigan; University of San Francisco; University of Southern California; University of Warwick; UNOPS; USAID; VillageReach; WHO; William Davidson Institute; World Bank