The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in June this year commissioned a standard warehouse for the storage of medicines and medical products in Lagos. The warehouse was partly funded by the US Agency for International Development. Built at a total cost of $5.2 million, the warehouse facility was constructed by a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Health and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The new Lagos facility provides critical storage space for public health commodities at the central level, enabling the Ministry to ensure the provision of quality, life-saving health commodities for Nigerians through a central facility.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Adewole maintained that appropriate warehousing was an important component of an efficient supply chain Management System, which facilitates the availability and delivery of quality medicines in timely and cost-effective manner. The Minister of Health revealed that the facility, which is currently installed on Federal Ministry of Health’s land with a total space allocation of about 3,465 square meters and a maximum storage capacity of 4,302 palate spaces, would provide more space for the national warehousing system
This, the minister stated, is a significant upgrade, making the Federal Central Medical Store a modern standard warehouse. The Minister further disclosed that the Federal Government’s target was to set up and effectively replicate (Warehouse In A Box) at least one in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.
Warehouse-in-a-Box (WIB), in medical parlance, is a medical storage facility, which serves as a central facility doubling the storage capacity of existing warehouses and reducing the cost and time the FMoH spend to procure, store, track and distribute medicines and medical products to healthcare centres across Nigeria.
Over 7,000 health facilities across the country receive commodities directly from the warehouses in Lagos and Abuja. WIB is expected to enhance quick response, drug storage and supply during emergencies such as epidemic outbreaks. In view of this, the Federal Ministry of Health instituted the National Products Supply Chain Management Programme.
The Minister reaffirmed that the NPSCMP was successfully executing the National Supply Chain Integration Project to ensure proper management of health commodities for all national health programmes. To ensure proper management and excellence in the conduct of affairs in the facilities both in Abuja (earlier commissioned) and Lagos, Prof. Adewole disclosed that the Federal Government is in the final stages of putting in place a Public Private Partnership arrangement for their operations. According to the Minister: “With this edifice, we have something to show the entire world that we can take care of our commodities and Monitor their distribution effectively.”
Adewole added that the Nigerian healthcare sector was therefore better equipped to deliver on its mandate in the area of storage and distribution of pharmaceuticals and other healthcare products, adding that this would lead to improved health status of Nigerians.
State Governments across the country have been calling on the Federal Government to assist in upgrading their warehouses to international standards. Recently, State Commissioners of Health met with the Minister of Health during the 2016 National Council on Health over what the Federal Government could do to assist in upgrading their warehouses to meet international best practices. In a bid to assist states improves their warehouses and eliminate wastage, which has become rampant within the system, Adewole early 2018 set up the Warehouse Visibility and Governance Project, with Pharmacist Gloria Modupe Chukwumah as Project Manager.
Chukwumah, who recently retired from the Ministry as Director, Food and Drug, is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the remaining 30+ 1 states warehouses are assessed, graded and a template put in place on how such warehouses could be upgraded to international standards using the PPP model.
With support from Africa Resource Centre for Supply Chain Nigeria, the new project commenced in June 2018. Assessment of the state warehouses is set to be done before the end of August 2018. Once the assessment is completed, a dashboard is expected to be installed in the Minister’s office to enable him monitor movement of commodities across the country. This would enable the Ministry of Health reduce wastage that has been identified as one of the problems confronting supply chain system in the country
Under a PPP arrangement, State Governors wishing to improve on their storage capacity can easily do so with support from donor organisation, while at the same time keeping a tab on drug distribution network across the country.
Prof. Adewole, a goal getter has remained true to his promise to turn the health sector in the country around for the better. He has pursued with vigour the rehabilitation of Primary Health Care Centres across the country, which he believes should be the cornerstone of our health development as a nation. So far, over 4,000 PHCs have been rehabilitated and brought back to life, while tertiary health institutions across the country are being given the desired attention.
. Akintunde is Special Assistant, Communication and Strategy to the Minister.