Innovative storage solutions bring health products closer to communities in Malawi

by | Nov 10, 2017

The public health supply chain in Malawi will benefit from an additional 7,000 square meters of combined pharma-grade storage space that will relieve pressure on central medical stores and health facilities and bring lifesaving medicines closer to rural communities.

In October 2017, the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), a leading public health supply chain solutions provider, and South African-based subcontractor, Resolve Solutions Partners, successfully completed the installation of 95 Storage-in-a-Box (SiB) facilities across Malawi, from Chitipa in the north, to Nsanje in the south.

SiB units are modular, scalable prefabricated storage facilities that can be erected quickly and affordably in remote locations. These units offer simple, secure space for the storage of medicines and can be converted for more specialized purposes, such as clinics.

For this project, ninety 70 square meters and five 140 square meters pharmacy conversions of the SiBs were installed. In its standard configuration, the units include everything needed to store and manage products in a safe and compliant manner. This includes a small office space, security, air-conditioning, shelving, pallets, a fire extinguisher, automatic voltage regulator, insulation, and a generator.

The SiBs have an energy-efficient roof and venting design, while thermoshield paint and motion-activated light emitting diode (LED) lights further increase energy efficiency. Some of the units will also be kitted with solar energy solutions as part of a new project run by PFSCM and Resolve.


Project Overview


This was the second SiB project undertaken by PFSCM and Resolve in Malawi. The success of the first SiB project, which entailed the installation of 115 SiBs under the PEPFAR-funded Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) program in 2016, sparked the interest of the international donor community, and at the end of that year, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria committed funding for the additional 95 SiBs to help further the Government of Malawi’s goal of increasing pharmaceutical storage capacity.

In February 2017, the second SiB project was kicked off, starting with site assessments and procurement. By May 2017, PFSCM had established an office in Lilongwe to streamline the implementation and management of the project. The PFSCM team in Malawi was mobilized to oversee project implementation and monitor the installation progress, inspection, and handover of the completed units to beneficiary health facilities.

Resolve established eight dedicated teams and two warehouses, one each in Lilongwe and Blantyre. Four teams covered the central and northern region, operating from Lilongwe, and the other four teams worked from Blantyre, covering the southern region.

The first two sites to receive SiBs were demonstration sites. One 70 square meters SiB was installed at the Blantyre South Lunzu Health Center demonstration site in eight days, and one 140 square meters SiB was installed in Mzuzu at the Moyale Barracks Health Center in 15 days. These sites were used to train new installers and standardize the installation process.

The installation of each SiB entails five phases, namely site preparation, flooring work, wall construction, roofing, and electrical work.

The installations were monitored and inspected by qualified engineers and architects with extensive experience in designing, inspecting, and managing building infrastructure projects, including prefabricated units. The monitoring consultants worked closely with Resolve’s installation team to ensure the proper handover of the units to the health facilities.

By October 24, 2017, all 95 SiBs had been installed and handed over to the beneficiary health facilities.


Visit from the Ministry of Health


On August 23, 2017, the Minister of Health and Population Services of Malawi, Hon. Atupele Muluzi, visited the Diamphwe Health Center, in the Lilongwe District. The purpose of the visit was to acknowledge the positive impact of the newly built prefabricated pharmacy store, which, along with the Health Center, serves a catchment area of over 21,000 people.