Supply Chain Solutions Ensure Access to Treatment for Haitians Living with HIV & AIDS

Supply Chain Solutions Ensure Access to Treatment for Haitians Living with HIV & AIDS

 {Photo credit: SCMS/Haiti.}SCMS staff provides technical assistance to head of pharmacy at Hôpital Bernard Mevs in Haiti.Photo credit: SCMS/Haiti.

The Supply Chain Management System (SCMS), established in 2005 under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), supplies lifesaving medicines to HIV & AIDS programs around the world and is led by the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), a nonprofit organization established by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and John Snow, Inc. SCMS first established a presence in Haiti in 2007. MSH manages SCMS operations in Haiti. 

This post is part of MSH's Global Health Impact Blog series, Improving Health in Haiti: Remember, Rebuild

Over the past eight years, SCMS has worked hand-in-hand with Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population to ensure access to the best quality antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and other HIV commodities through needs assessments, forecasting, procurement, shipping, warehousing, and distribution at the national level. For example, SCMS leads a national quantification exercise to ensure the availability of lifesaving drugs for nearly 55,000 HIV & AIDS patients.  

Locally, SCMS supports infrastructure improvement, provides technical assistance, and strengthens the ability of clinics to manage supplies and to ensure proper storage. Hôpital Bernard Mevs is one of the 177 local sites where SCMS delivers lifesaving HIV & AIDS drugs and commodities in Haiti. On any given day, dozens of the more than 1,070 patients currently on antiretroviral treatment (ART) at the hospital wait outside the pharmacy’s door where Rose-Marie Marcelin, a trained nurse, dispenses their monthly supply of medication. Says Marcelin:

After my training with SCMS, I’ve been able to manage my stock very effectively... We’ve had no expiries or stockouts at the pharmacy since.

No expiries mean that funds aren’t wasted, and no stockouts mean that patients are not turned away. It also means an improved quality of life for patients and their loved ones. Says Dr. Marlon Bitar, co-director at Hôpital Bernard Mevs:

Without USAID, there would not be an HIV & AIDS program. As simple as that. 

Responding to unforeseen crises

Since 2010, SCMS has worked closely with USAID and the Ministry of Public Health and Population to adjust activities to the reality of post-earthquake Haiti and the cholera outbreak that closely followed. SCMS provided commodities for the earthquake emergency response and procured and distributed supplies to address the outbreak.

Disposing of pharmaceutical waste

In 2013, SCMS took a leading role within the national pharmaceutical waste management program. For years, Haiti received huge volumes of donated medicines, many of which were unusable. These commodities have clogged the national supply chain, causing challenges that affected both patients and treatment providers. This issue was only exacerbated after the 2010 earthquake. SCMS efforts have resulted in major strides toward removing pharmaceutical waste which is allowing the national supply chain to function more effectively.

Creating a unified supply chain

In 2013, MSH, PFSCM and SCMS also began a major initiative to  move towards a unified supply chain for essential medicines and other health-related commodities. USAID and the Haitian Government recognized that rationalizing and unifying donor supply chains would result in more efficient and effective use of aid support. In a post-earthquake landscape marked by multiple donor interventions, it is critical to deliver commodities in a way that supports, rather than burdens, the national health system. Today, SCMS and MSH’s Leadership, Management and Sustainability (LMS) project have consolidated their supply chains by housing all commodities under a single roof and managing joint distributions to treatment sites, a first critical step towards the planned integration.

Regardless of the challenges, SCMS’s overarching objective has remained constant: to remove the supply chain barriers that stand between patients and the availability of the treatment they depend on. SCMS continues to support access to treatment for Haitians living with HIV & AIDS.