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23 August 2014 | Will Green
More use should be made of framework agreements in the procurement of public health supplies in developing countries, according to academic research.
An article published in Global Health: Science and Practice argued tendering multiple times a year leads to “long lead times and stock-outs”, while the use of frameworks could “present an opportunity for substantial improvements in procurement efficiency and commodity availability”.
The article, by Leslie Arney and Prashant Yadav of the University of Michigan and Roger Miller and Taylor Wilkerson of consultancy LMI, said barriers to the use of frameworks in Africa could include lack of enabling legislation, inadequate understanding or differing interpretation of procurement legislation and "insufficient contract management capacity".
“The current practice of floating tenders multiple times a year contributes to long lead times and stock-outs, and it hampers the supplier’s ability to plan and respond to the government’s needs,” said the report, called Strategic contracting practices to improve procurement of health commodities.
“Enabling legislation and strengthened technical capacity to develop and manage long-term contracts could facilitate the use of framework contracts in sub-Saharan Africa, with improved supply security and cost savings likely to result.”
The article recommended an international technical working group be established, including agencies such as WHO and the United Nations Development Programme, to “support procurement departments in ministries of health or medicines supply agencies in developing countries in the use of framework contracts”.