Start quickly to set up a strong supply chain

11 May 2012

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11 May 2012 | Adam Leach

The faster you start delivering antiretroviral (ARV) HIV medicine, the quicker you can measure demand and establish a supply chain, according to the CEO of logistics firm RTT.

Speaking at the CIPS Pan African Conference in Johannesburg this week, Dr Iain Barton explained in order to establish a strong supply chain for antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients in South Africa, the company got up and running quickly in order to gather data and refine demand forecasting.

The company was awarded the contract to deliver the drugs throughout South Africa in December 2009. In January 2010, Barton and Ira Magaziner, chairman of the William J. Clinton Foundation, met with representatives from the country’s Department of Health (DoH) and told them they could only learn once they were up and running.

Barton, a practicing clinician for more than 10 years before moving into medical supply chain roles, said they explained to the government representatives: “The only thing we can tell you about your procurement plan is it is wrong. We cannot tell you how wrong it is. We cannot tell you how to get it right. All we can tell you is… go buy stuff.

“Go buy half of what you think it will be and tell the manufacturers you will phone them in six weeks time and tell them how fast it’s going down the pipe. Let’s actually get in the business and start delivering volume so we can understand the trends and monitor and manage the consumption.”

The company now handles a supply chain delivering the drugs to over 1 million patients in South Africa.

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