A project highly similar to, but distinct from, pharma traceability undertakings in the developed world is now taking shape in Nigeria. With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and a multinational charity, the Global Fund, Chemonics, an experienced international-aid contractor, has hired a company called One Network Enterprises to build an IT-based “control tower” (a term common in logistics to manage a supply chain) to source, transport and distribute donated medicines in Nigeria. One Network offers an established, cloud-based program branded as RTVN, which has been used for supply chain management for the US Dept. of Defense, several multinational corporations, and a healthcare network similar to the Nigeria undertaking, but in Rwanda.
According to Greg Brady, CEO of One Network, the Nigerian RTVN will manage delivery of donated drugs from multiple suppliers into Nigerian distribution centers, and track the products through hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in the country; generally following supply-chain management practices established by the World Health Organization. Already, two state-of-the-art warehouses have been opened, in Lagos and Abuja; 15 other warehouses will be part of the network. These distribution centers will serve 19,000 health facilities in country. RTVN is capable of managing supply chain visibility, chain of custody services, on-time delivery performance, and order replenishment capabilities. RTVN is designed to be compatible with blockchain technology, which could eventually be part of the implementation, he says.
Jamey Butcher, EVP at Chemonics, notes that his company has managed international-development projects in over 70 countries, and reviewed some 30 business-networking platforms before choosing One Network. The Global Fund portion of the project is for handling the distribution of HIV/AIDS and malaria drugs specifically. A full-featured implementation is expected to be in place by the end of this year. The implementation will save an estimated $2 million, or about 16%, of transportation costs alone, by optimizing route structures and reducing redundant shipments.
All that being said, RTVN in Nigeria is just a next step to what is planned to be an Africa-wide or even global network for healthcare products. Brady noes that the inherent advantage of RTVN is to enable suppliers, logistics providers and others to sign on once, and then have that registration replicate for any other nation’s supply chain. “Point-to-point communications just won’t work with large, complex supply chains,” he says, “networks are the way to go.”