Educating the Future Supply Chain Workforce

A well-functioning health system is only as strong as the people who run it. Nurses, pharmacists, health facility staff, warehouse managers and others all play a crucial role in ensuring the right supplies reach the right people at the right time.

The USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project is developing human resource capacity by working with established educational institutions to institutionalize systems that ensure high-performing, professional, and consumer-centered workforces.

A well-trained supply chain workforce puts countries on a path to self-reliance.

GHSC-PSM works with more than 20 countries to strengthen their public health supply chains with tailored approaches for each. One method gaining traction is to develop curricula for universities and private training institutions. This pre-service training offers several benefits over in-service training:

  • When students are prepared with the knowledge and skills for supply chain management during their pre-service training, they are ready to immediately apply their skills and can be more efficient once they enter the workforce.
  • In-service training is more costly in terms of time and resource commitments.
  • By partnering with universities and colleges, and institutionalizing training as part of a national curriculum, countries are putting their health systems on a path to autonomy.

Angola, Ghana, Pakistan and Zambia are building sustainable workforces with pre-service training. How did they get there?

Generally, they started small.

They identified a problem or challenge, as well as an opportunity to change for the better. They spent time analyzing data and planning.

They tested an idea on a smaller scale, or in a shorter amount of time to gauge potential impact. They targeted a specific set of skills and supply chain knowledge essential to effectively managing health products.

Most importantly, they collaborated with established educational institutions that will ensure these programs can build to something larger and continue in the future.


Through its partnership with the Angolan Ministry of Health (MOH), GHSC-PSM used a tailored workforce self-assessment tool to identify opportunities for strengthening the skills of Angolan health supply chain managers.

The results of this assessment were shared with the National School of Public Health, leading it to partner with GHSC-PSM to develop curriculum for a master’s specialization in public health supply chain management.

This will be the first master's-level specialization of its kind in Angola, provided at the National School of Public Health. The program will be offered at no cost to current MOH employees with responsibilities in supply chain management, from warehouse managers to senior national health program leaders. The potential impact is significant, as all graduates of the National School of Public Health go back to apply the principles and methodologies learned within the public health supply chain.


The project is working with the University of Ghana – the largest in the country – to improve human resource skills and governance structures within regional public health supply chains.

Results of analyzing concerning performance data and site inspections revealed bottlenecks, challenges and ultimately a lack of access to medicines at the regional level.

As a first step, the university identified, through research, the root causes of low motivation among health supply chain workers. The research allowed it to determine what factors influence motivation and what structural changes are necessary for sustainable, improved performance.

Longer-term, the University plans to develop a Center of Quality Improvement within its Schools of Public Health and Business that includes health supply chain management quality improvement cycles focused on region-specific issues, with an initial priority on human resources related issues. This will be a collaborative initiative, with the university leveraging its teaching and research capabilities to identify staff to participate in the program, lead curriculum development, deliver courses and certifications, and identify sustainable sources of funding. GHSC-PSM will provide an internship program at its offices in Accra, serve as guest lecturers, contribute to curriculum review, and support the training of the university’s staff and lecturers.


With the help of GHSC-PSM, Pakistan’s University of Health Sciences (UHS) launched its first public health supply chain management short certificate course in November 2018, delivered quarterly.

UHS has successfully conducted three cohorts of the short (three-hour) certificate course for 110 students from government, private and pharmaceutical sectors. The project is also customizing a set of two-day crash courses in supply chain management for each thematic area of supply chain management. Additionally, UHS and GHSC-PSM will co-develop supply chain master's and PhD courses over the next two to three years.

UHS plays a central role in building the public health supply chain workforce capacity in Punjab, the most populated province in the country, so the impact of these courses will be seen on a large scale.

GHSC-PSM is also in talks with the University of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – the second most populous province in the country – to launch a three-credit-hour supply chain certification course. The project is working with public health development partners to support enrollment in the course. As a result, Nutrition International recently announced scholarships for 80 public sector officials from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to attend the course in June 2019.

Dr. Shabina Raza, Country Director, Nutrition International Pakistan

“Nutrition International, in partnership with USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project, is pleased to jointly strengthen the supply chain workforce of the Health Department [in Pakistan] by offering a three-credit-hour supply chain management course for in-service government employees” - Dr. Shabina Raza, Country Director, Nutrition International Pakistan


In Zambia, nurses account for more than 72 percent of the MOH's total workforce, and are responsible for managing most rural health facilities. Where commodity management is concerned, nurses play the biggest role.

The MOH has a mandate to achieve universal health coverage, with a robust and resilient health workforce as a key driver. To achieve this, supply chain management was introduced into the national nursing curriculum by the General Nursing Council of Zambia (GNCZ) in 2015.

GHSC-PSM provided the initial training to lecturers and clinical instructors in all nursing and midwifery training institutions, and continues to provide ongoing capacity building. In December 2018, 72 nursing schools – including private training institutions – administered the supply chain management exam, whose questions were developed by GHSC-PSM. These focused on effective ordering, receiving, storage, and management of health commodities.

Nearly 3,000 nurses in Zambia sat for the supply chain management exam, with over 73 percent passing.

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Photo Credits: Angola: Julia Perri/GHSC-PSM; Ghana: Gloria Agyekum/GHSC-PSM; Pakistan: GHSC-PSM; Zambia: CHALI CHAMA/GHSC-PSM

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