The Challenges of Supplying and Distributing a Vaccine Programme in Ghana

By Frank Donkor

Last month, a flight carrying 600,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the capital of Ghana, Accra, a ‘momentous’ moment for the global vaccine roll-out. Here, KBS’s Frank Donkor, an expert in supply and logistics with significant experience in Ghana, gives his take on the COVAX efforts and why he believes the government of Ghana must exercise caution…

Ghana is the first country in Africa to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, specifically from COVAX, which is  a step in the right direction. But, the nationals of Ghana cannot relax just yet.

The  pharmaceutical and health supply chain in Ghana (likewise most African countries) is not matured as it is in developed countries. There is less adoption of best supply chain practices coupled with a high level of resource constraints.

The leaders in Ghana need to be transformational and transactional to carry out the vaccine rollout effectively.

Here’s the practical steps, as an expert in health supply chain, I hope the Ghanaian government will take:

Clear objectives

Strong integration between the government and healthcare workers will be needed to ensure objectives are clearly set out and agreed upon by all internal stakeholders. In simple terms, a weak internal base leads to a less effective and efficient impact on downstream stakeholders (the population in this case).

Strong collaboration

Working in harmony with suppliers and distributors will ensure consistent and on-time delivery of additionally sourced vaccines. This is a very important initial step in reaching herd immunity.

Integration with citizens

The government has work to do to instil faith from the population that the vaccine is safe. Using diverse platforms such as social media, the dissemination of accurate and timely information will also ensure that those that are vaccinated understand efficacy and continue observing the safety protocols.

Higher forms of collaboration will also help eradicate other trending misconceptions in the Ghanaian context, including those currently circulating the country, such as the misconception that taking the vaccine can alter one’s DNA.

Consistent monitoring

Data gathering will ensure that informed decisions are made as the vaccination programme continues. Through this, the patient (in this case the citizens) satisfaction levels can be increased significantly downstream the supply chain.

Frank Donkor is a lecturer at Kent Business School in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. He has significant years of industry experience in the field of logistics, operations, and supply chain management both in Ghana and the UK. 

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