Innovating to Ensure Effective Health Supply Chains                                          

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The Indian public healthcare system caters to a population of over a billion people, spread across a landmass that is over 3.2 million square kilometers and across diverse geography.

At the core of this healthcare system, is a healthcare supply chain, which is comprised of people, processes, policies, technology and resources that ensure that the right products reach the right place in the right condition at the right time. However, the public health system is overburdened and understaffed making healthcare availability a challenge.  Data from 2014 shows that there were only over 25000 functioning Primary Healthcare centers in the country  with over 27000 doctors at these facilities .

The challenge

We are looking for technology-oriented solutions that address some of the problems that our heath system supply chains are facing, particularly in rural and remote areas of the country. Whether it is to address infrastructural inadequacies or systems changes, we are looking for ideas that would allow more effective healthcare at the frontline of the health system.

  • Technology solutions to aid Last mile availability: Challenges in infrastructure (e.g. inadequate roads, electrification, etc.), technologies (lack of low cost and affordable technologies) and processes (e.g., existence and implementation of SOPs) create barriers at the “last mile” and limit access to essential health products for health system clients and patients.
  • Supply chain system design: Traditional LMIC public health supply chain designs often result in lack of supply chain efficiency, agility, resilience and responsiveness, as well as problems of execution. These weaknesses can produce unintended consequences that may impede achievement of public health goals, for example through increased expiries, increased costs, and/or lower availability at dispensing points.
  • First mile data: Multiple barriers limit efficient collection and reporting of critical health supply chain data at the health clinic or community level (i.e. the “first mile” of data flow). These include limitations in scalable tools and platforms that efficiently capture and transmit data in a way that meets the full requirements of local systems; overburdened staff with heavy data reporting burdens; and poor quality control of reported data.
  • Data driven performance management at all levels: Even where data is “unlocked” from paper tools—meaning that that data and information becomes accessible to other staff within and outside of the facility — weaknesses remain in how data is analyzed and used. Integration and analysis of data from multiple sources, particularly consumption data, and triangulation of data remains challenging; data are rarely used in a systematic way to inform decision- and policy-making.

What we are looking for:

Grand Challenges Explorations- India seeks proposals that address challenges in effective health supply chains that are daring in premise, and clearly different from the approaches currently under investigation or employed. The solutions submitted to this topic could focus on an integrated health supply chain, or they could focus specifically on immunization and/or family planning supply chains and their respective programmatic goals. They must have the potential to be scaled up or reproduced in multiple settings. We encourage solutions that translate leading and best practices and solutions developed by the private sector (e.g. outside of health), as well as academic research and findings, to LMICs in a way that support their public health goals.

Proposals must provide a strong rationale for the work proposed, demonstrating a clear understanding of country context and needs, and present a defined hypothesis and associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated. Proposed ideas must ultimately be translatable to practical interventions accessible in resource-limited settings.

A few examples of work that would be considered for funding

  1. Distribution and delivery technologies & approaches

o          Novel approaches, technologies and tools that enable effective and efficient delivery of health products to the last mile (this may include all health products or a focus on specific product groups). For example, a novel way to ensure effective oxygen supply in rural outposts, or systems to decontaminate surgical tools.

o          Supply chain design tools or processes that will optimize the supply chain for achievement of public health goals.

  1. New channels and designs to access and deliver health products

o          Unique and innovative uses of other channels (beyond the standard public sector channels, e.g. private distributors, retail pharmacies, other retail services, social enterprises, etc.) to deliver health products, including to underserved population segments.

o          Utilization of other sectors, such as agriculture (e.g. flower exporters or other agricultural export) or fast-moving consumer goods (e.g. food including ice cream, beauty care, etc.) to improve access to essential health products and supply chain efficiencies.

  1. Visibility and analytics

o          Innovative solutions to establish and maintain end-to-end supply chain visibility, including data capture, reporting, and use at all levels.

o          Approaches, tools or technologies that can support data analysis and data-driven decisions and actions to improve supply chain performance.

We will not consider funding for:

  1. Proposals that do not directly address at least one of the challenges described above;
  2. Proposals without a clearly-articulated objective or an objective that cannot be easily assessed for quality, efficiency and/or effectiveness;
  3. Preclinical or clinical research: proposals for vaccine or medicine administration or delivery devices; proposals aimed at improving vaccine or medicine stability or formulation; proposals involving animal models or human subjects in clinical trials;
  4. Approaches that represent incremental improvements to current activities or conventional solutions, or iterative solutions;
  5. Approaches that are not applicable in low- and middle-income country settings;
  6. Approaches for which proof of concept cannot be demonstrated within the funding levels described for this call;
  7. New solutions that do not have the potential to be used widely or scaled-up, or are only relevant to a single geography or context.
  8. Proposals that do not describe or outline the innovation’s down-stream effects on the supply system or consider innovation in the context of the broader health and routine immunization system or local landscape capacity;
  9. Proposals based upon, or that rely solely on, an SMS platform for sending reminders or communication; and
  10. Proposals that can only be applied to individual manufacturers’ products or specific product improvement initiatives.

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