Comment: Supply chain collaboration vital for vaccine success in Ghana

Sam Wood
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How can Ghana ensure rollout success?

Recent news that Ghana is to be the first country in Africa to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, specifically from COVAX, has been hailed as a positive step in halting the virus in Africa. However, Dr Frank Donkor, Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management at Kent Business School warns that several practical collaborative steps must be taken to achieve the vaccine rollout in Ghana:

‘As the pharmaceutical supply chain in Ghana (like most African countries) is not as matured as that of European nations, there is less adoption of the best supply chain practices and a high level of resource constraints. A well-coordinated and integrated supply chain is needed to achieve the set objectives of the rollout.

‘A number of Ghanians live in areas where access to proper healthcare and pharmaceutical products is a challenge. Therefore, higher levels of integration and collaboration are needed between the government, vaccine distributors, healthcare workers and citizens. This will strengthen the pharmaceutical supply chain in Ghana, ensuring higher levels of vaccine access and effective monitoring of vaccinated patients through which trust, safety, and patient satisfaction levels can be increased throughout the supply chain. These performance measures are of major concern to Ghanians.

‘Ghana’s leaders must be transformational and transactional to carry out the vaccine rollout effectively and efficiently to meet the set objectives.

‘Practical steps to ensure effective and sustainable COVID-19 vaccine distribution across Ghana include:

  1. ‘There must be strong integration between internal stakeholders (e.g. Ghanian government, healthcare workers, etc.) to ensure objectives are clearly set out and agreed upon whilst recognizing all internal resources needed to achieve these. This strong internal base is needed for the effective involvement of external stakeholders (e.g. vaccine suppliers, distributors and citizens) to meet the objectives of the rollout. In simple terms, a weak internal base leads to an ineffective and inefficient vaccine rollout for Ghanians.
  1. ‘Strong collaboration with suppliers, distributors and upstream stakeholders is needed to ensure the consistent and on-time delivery of additionally sourced vaccines. This is a very important initial step in reaching herd immunity in Ghana.
  1. ‘The Ghanian government must adopt higher forms of integration with the citizens (using diverse approaches and platforms) to ensure proper dissemination of accurate and timely information throughout the supply chain, most importantly downstream. This is essential, as despite the availability of the vaccines, most Ghanians are keen on first knowing their efficacy and safety before accepting. The dissemination of information will also help to eliminate misconceptions that the vaccinated are 100% immune (as a number currently do), thus encouraging continuation of safety protocols.
  1. ‘There must be consistent monitoring and data gathering to ensure that informed decisions are made by and for Ghana. Through this, patient satisfaction levels can be increased significantly downstream for the supply chain, leading to greater take-up of the vaccine and the overall success of the rollout.’

Dr Frank Donkor is a Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management at Kent Business School. His focus is on the role of internal and external contextual factors (e.g. External Uncertainty, Leadership Style, Product Innovation, etc.) on adopted Operational Strategies and how this impacts Supply Chain Performance. 

He has significant years of industry experience in the field of logistics, operations, and supply chain management both in Ghana and the UK, developing a unique understanding of the Supply Chain integration and sustainability.

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