Implementing effective channel management strategies to improve access to health products in LMICs

by | Mar 26, 2024

In crisis regions and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), effective channel management is key to ensuring access to lifesaving health products and services.

Understanding the supply chain challenges and forces that affect supply and demand for health products in LMICs is essential to developing resilient delivery mechanisms that ensure continued access to lifesaving health products even during periods of unrest and hardship.


What is channel management, and why is it Important?


The storage room employee stocks shelves with new merchandise.Channel management refers to the establishment and strategic management of an effective supply chain. Effective supply chains are responsive, flexible, and connected for a high level of data visibility. Such supply chains are also resilient and able to withstand shocks and disruptions.

Channel management plays an important role in helping stakeholders develop a supply chain that can adapt to and meet the needs of the rapidly changing global health landscape.

New health products and technologies continuously become available, while countries and health program implementors also continuously change in response to and in preparation for known and unknown public health priorities.

In this fast-changing environment, the demand and needs of patients and healthcare providers do not always align with the offerings from suppliers and vice versa. Access to the best and most affordable products is obstructed when the demand and supply are not aligned.

Partners must collaborate and understand each other’s operational worlds to establish reliable supply mechanisms. The Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), a procurement services agent and health logistics solutions provider, combines procurement and delivery best practices with channel management services to help connect supply and demand for better health outcomes.


Global channel management challenges


PFSCM understands the challenges faced by LMICs in the supply chain. The fragmented supply landscape, shortage of manufacturing capacity, weak and varying regulatory systems, poor accessibility, language barriers, and cultural differences can all create complexities in channel relationships.

Also, when not well managed, global logistics and supply chain intricacies, such as tax waivers and customs clearance, can impede the distribution of critical health products.

To overcome these challenges, PFSCM leverages our extensive experience and employs strategies such as partnering with local organizations, mapping country-specific importation and regulatory procedures, hiring multilingual and culturally competent staff, and implementing advanced supply chain technologies to ensure the safe and timely delivery of lifesaving products to those who need them most.


PFSCM’s experience in challenging countries


PFSCM set up shop in 2005 when the HIV crisis was at its peak, with more than 30 million people infected on the African continent alone. Since then, our mission has been to strengthen, develop, and manage secure, reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable global supply chains to improve the health and well-being of people in LMICs through increased access to quality and affordable health products.

PFSCM has successfully implemented channel management strategies in some of the most challenging countries in the world. Our experience in these countries has allowed us to develop pragmatic solutions that leverage local capacity for resilience.

Since 2020, PFSCM has delivered health products to more than 30 countries that have experienced hardships related to conflict, unrest, and natural disasters between 2020 and 2024.

PFSCM routinely delivers health products to low- and middle-income countries, and apart from the unrest that often occurs in many developing countries, PFSCM also navigates the standard importation complexities associated with many of these countries. Even countries not faced with current conflicts experience unexpected complications and disruptions that affect logistics and importation processes.


PFSCM’s approach to channel management

PFSCM's approach to channel management

PFSCM has established strong partnerships with suppliers and freight forwarders and has helped several clients implement channel management strategies to improve access to health products, lower costs, and drive efficiencies throughout their health supply chains. We partner with health suppliers, as well as non-profit health delivery organizations, to manage and optimize distribution channels. These channels help buyers and beneficiaries access new and/or donated products and help manufacturers enter new markets in a fast and cost effective way. Our approach to channel management involves bringing together NGOs, governments, private businesses, authorized distributors, and manufacturers to establish and leverage reliable supply, procurement, and delivery mechanisms. Further, we help stakeholders understand the landscape, ensuring quality products and tailored solutions are available. With more than 300 suppliers globally, PFSCM leverages our strong supplier base to match products and services with clients’ needs. We connect demand with supply and provide our clients with accurate, timely forecast-, stock-, order- and shipment data.

We help supply chain stakeholders use the facts to take control of production scheduling, better manage shipments, and reduce inventory stockouts and product obsolescence. We also manage the entire transactional procurement process, from product quality assurance, order fulfillment and delivery, supplier relationship, and financial management. In addition, we oversee the entire transportation process using a standardized governance framework to measure and manage the performance of freight forwarders and warehousing partners. We use digital solutions to capture key information at critical milestones in the supply chain. Meanwhile, we continuously monitor the market and analyze data to identify potential changes and emerging trends. By doing so, we can proactively adapt supply chain solutions to meet the evolving needs of hanging landscapes. With an agile supply chain management approach and a sustainability commitment, we adapt to market changes and deliver the best possible outcomes for all our clients. Through better supply chain management, we can improve the quality of care, leading to improved health outcomes, reduced morbidity and mortality rates, and increased access to essential health products and services


Adding value to our clients

Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Dominican Republic (DR)

PFSCM has been a partner of the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Dominican Republic (DR) for over a decade, offering technical assistance and in-country logistics services for the country’s HIV programs, by providing affordable quality-assured antiretrovirals (ARVs), HIV rapid diagnostic test kits, viral load reagents, and condoms.

Value Add: PFSCM helped the DR maintain a consistent and reliable supply of these essential products. PFSCM’s channel management services saved the MoH of the DR millions of dollars in procurement costs over the years. By adopting best procurement practices, multi-month dispensing, and carton-less packaging initiatives, PFSCM improved the downstream distribution of ARVs and helped the MoH plan for and adopt MMD of ARVs for patients meeting the treatment criteria. Since 2009, PFSCM has delivered HIV products worth more than $59 million to the Dominican Republic, helping the country achieve better coverage of ARV treatment and continuity in diagnostics services.