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Who is preparing the next generation of immunization supply chain professionals?

Monday, 3rd of April 2017 Print

Excerpt below; full text is at


Volume 35, Issue 17, 19 April 2017, Pages 2229–2232


Who is preparing the next generation of immunization supply chain professionals? 

  • Andrew N. Browna, , 
  • Wendy Prosserb
  • Dominique Zwinkelsc
  • a International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL), 1616 North Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209, USA
  • b VillageReach, 2900 Eastlake Ave. E, Suite 230, Seattle, Washington 98102, USA
  • c The People that Deliver Initiative, Oceanvej 10-12, 2150 Copenhagen, Denmark

Available online 30 March 2017


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1. Introduction

“Countries can no longer rely on a handful of appropriately trained individuals to distribute vaccines worth tens of millions of dollars. Any improvement to vaccine delivery will require a substantial increase in the number, training, and retention of logistics staff.”


Organizations in high income countries (particularly the private sector), have acknowledged the importance of supply chain and need for professional supply chain personnel for many years, while government run supply chains in many low income countries still do not recognize this need [2] ;  [3]. It is estimated that by 2020, the Gavi Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) eligible countries, will manage twice as many vaccine products as in 2010, with quadruple the volume and five times the value [4]. As new vaccines are introduced and new technologies are becoming available that can improve efficiencies more supply chain professionals will be needed with the appropriate technical and leadership competencies to run immunization supply chains from end to end. Gavi has been one of the first international bodies to articulate the complex interrelationships that need to be addressed if we are to move towards highly performing, next-generation supply chains, by focusing its immunization strategy on improvements that can be made through leadership, continuous improvement, data, better cold chain equipment, and system design [4].

There has been an increasing focus on professionalizing human resources for supply chain management starting with Project Optimize in 2007 ( and more recently with the People that Deliver (PtD) Initiative in 2011 ( Tasks within the supply chain are often not considered as requiring a professional role or specialized training and this leads to inefficiencies in the supply chain [2][3][5] ;  [6].

A key lever for change is to ensure that supply chain professionals with the right competencies are placed at the right level within national health supply chain systems [4] ;  [6]. This invites the question “who is preparing the next generation of immunization supply chain professionals”?

Effective supply chain management with strong leadership is critical for any system change and must be placed within the context of a comprehensive systematic approach to human resources (HR) by focusing on the five building blocks for human resources development; engaging with stakeholders, optimizing policies and plans, identifying workforce development and performance management initiatives, and supporting processes for professionalization [6] ;  [7]. This will build the required support for the development of effective supply chain professionals through appropriate policies, improved performance and retention, and professionalization of the supply chain workforce.

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