In 2021, the International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL) awarded 15 small grants to 13 Country Chapters, totaling an investment of over $30,000.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IAPHL launched a small grants program in 2021, allowing IAPHL Country Chapters to apply for funding for various chapter growth and health supply chain activities.
IAPHL Country Chapters are led by volunteers and often rely on local supply chain organizations for support. With limited financial resources, it can be challenging to engage the local supply chain community consistently. The launch of this small grants program has been a game changer for many chapters.
IAPHL Small Grants and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Many of the IAPHL Country Chapters used their small grants to address the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent supply chain challenges. Each chapter approached their small grant differently, depending on the needs of the local community and public health supply chain context.
- In November 2021, the IAPHL Ghana Chapter hosted a hybrid workshop titled “Sustaining Supply Chain Performance Improvement in the Public Health Sector of Ghana” with 70 in-person and 60 virtual participants. The workshop attracted a wide range of attendees in the public, private, and academic sectors. Framed within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers discussed topics related to key interventions driving health supply chain performance, monitoring and evaluation frameworks, key supply chain performance indicators, and sustaining improvement.
- The IAPHL India Chapter took a different approach. In September 2021, the chapter announced a contest, “Supply Chain Learnings in COVID-19 Times.” The contest asked chapter members to submit a short case study describing one supply chain challenge encountered during the pandemic and how it was solved. Five winners were selected by Empower School of Health Director, Paul Lalvani, and IAPHL Executive Director, Walter Proper, following a webinar hosted by the chapter with over 75 participants. During the webinar, the winners presented their case studies, answered questions from other members, and engaged in a chapter-wide discussion on the effects of COVID-19 on the local health supply chains.
- In Ethiopia, the IAPHL chapter implemented an in-person summit addressing relevant supply chain topics like the professionalization of health supply chain management and public-private partnerships. A Deputy Director at the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health also presented on “Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” including governance structures, forecasting, procurement, and warehousing and inventory management. Overall, 20 members participated in the summit.
- Finally, the IAPHL Nepal Chapter worked closely with Ministry of Health and Population (MHOP) to host a workshop addressing supply chain management and the country’s response to COVID-19. Following a presentation by the MOHP on the current status of supply chain management in Nepal, participants separated into small groups to develop actionable solutions and suggested improvements to the country’s pandemic response.
Impact of Small Grants
Following the completion of these grant activities, the IAPHL Country Chapters reported an increase in community participation, awareness, and engagement with supply chain stakeholders.
All of the chapters cited an increase in community participation, especially peer-to-peer learning. In Ghana, the chapter hosted a Q&A session, allowing members to openly discuss current tools and techniques used in health supply chain management, quantification, and commodity security planning. Overall, the chapter exceeded expectations of participation in the event and even welcomed supply chain students to the community.
The IAPHL Ethiopia Chapter described the importance of having senior role models within the chapter for experience and knowledge sharing. The chapter continues to connect senior supply chain experts with the broader community through a vibrant Telegram group that reaches over 500 members. Through the small grant, the chapter was able to grow this community and encourage active participation.
During their workshop, the IAPHL Nepal Chapter relied on peer-to-peer learning to develop solutions to current supply chain challenges. Supply chain experts gathered in small groups to assess the country’s current supply chain context, including availability of health commodities and service delivery to the last mile. Following this group work, proposed solutions were presented to the larger community.
The small grants also bolstered the awareness of IAPHL locally and attracted new members to the community. Awareness of the challenges and innovations surrounding COVID-19 and emergency supply chain also increased as a direct impact of these grant activities.
Through their contest, the IAPHL India Chapter increased their membership by 57 and motivated existing members to actively engage with the chapter. It also increased the awareness of specific issues caused by COVID-19 at all levels of the supply chain. The IAPHL Ghana Chapter also cited an increase in membership following their workshop and was even exposed to new supply chain organizations in their country. In Ethiopia, their small grant activity lead to national recognition. With assistance from the Ethiopian government, the chapter registered as a civil society organization, allowing it to operate as an official legal entity in the country.
Through the various workshops and other grant activities, the chapters engaged many public and private supply chain stakeholders. This engagement will lead to continued support and sustainability for the IAPHL Country Chapters in the future.
The hybrid workshop hosted by the IAPHL Ghana Chapter attracted participants from the local Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service. By fostering these relationships, the IAPHL Ghana Chapter is looking forward to upcoming collaborations. In Ethiopia, the chapter gathered speakers from prominent supply chain actors, including international NGOs, USAID, and the Federal Ministry of Health. IAPHL Ethiopia served as a unifying platform capable of bringing all relevant stakeholders to the table to discuss COVID-19 supply chain. Following the workshop in Nepal, the IAPHL Nepal Chapter and MOHP agreed to meet every quarter to discuss action items from the event—solidifying a partnership between the chapter and local government.
How can I get involved in my local IAPHL Country Chapter?
Joining an IAPHL Country Chapter provides opportunities for online and in-person networking and professional development among supply chain professionals at the country level. Country chapters can also facilitate internship, peer mentorship, and employment opportunities.
Many other IAPHL Country Chapters have successfully completed small grant activities in other areas – stay tuned for more updates!