Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: landscape assessment of wholesalers in Africa

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PFSCM received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct a landscape analysis of the pharmaceutical wholesale and distributor industry in five African countries. The project was completed in 2019.

Private wholesalers and distributors are the mainstays of health product distribution in most Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Retail and hospital pharmacies place their orders for the medicines and health products they need with their selected distributors, and the distributors deliver the orders, often daily. However, private wholesalers and distributors have received considerably less attention in health care supply chains in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While this is partially due to a highly fragmented wholesaler and distributor landscape and weak technical capacity, it is also driven by a lack of understanding of the capabilities of wholesalers and distributors operating in LMICs.

PFSCM, PATH, AfRX Consulting and Strategnos, undertook a nine-month (January to September, 2019) study on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to explore the technical and operational capabilities of existing wholesalers and distributors and their potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of global health supply chains.

The primary objective of the study was to understand capabilities of wholesalers/distributors that can partner with governments, pharmaceutical companies, and product developers to increase health care product availability in selected country markets.

The team interviewed 47 pharmaceutical and medical device wholesalers and distributors across the project’s five study countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda).

The study found private wholesalers/distributors in every country that would make strong partners for the public and donor sectors. Throughout the study the strength, reach and capabilities of the private wholesalers/distributors in each country were directly impacted by the environment in which they were operating a few common themes were identified.

Read the full landscape assessment here.


Project Date

  • 2019

Focus Area

  • Landscape assessment
  • Technical capabilities of wholesalers / distributors
  • Operational capabilities of wholesalers / distributors


Impact Figures

  • $1 million assessment budget
  • Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda