LAHORE: The University of Health Sciences (UHS) and the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Programme will collaborate to initiate diploma, short courses and masters leading to PhD programme in supply chain management.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to the effect was signed at the conclusion of a symposium on the `Significance of Public Health Supply Chain Management’ organised by the UHS in collaboration with USAID Global Health Supply Chain – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) programme here on Wednesday.

Under the first phase of the MoU, three-credit hour module of supply chain management has been incorporated in the Masters in Public Health Programme of the UHS.

Earlier, Minister for Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Khwaja Salman Rafique said at the symposium that the process of procurement, supply and distribution of medicine and other health commodities in public sector hospitals of the province was being standardised and made comprehensive and effective.

“We are bringing about a robust and transparent supply chain management system which will not only help eliminate the loss incurred due to expiry of medicines but also would ensure qualitative and quantitative needs of the end users,” said the minister.

Salman Rafique said provision of free-of-cost medicines worth billions of rupees to the patients in public sector hospitals had been top priority of the government since it took over.

“It is the prime responsibility of the authorities concerned to make the process of purchase, supply and distribution of medicines completely transparent. Accountability has been brought in at all levels to ensure that the medicines purchased are reaching the needy,” he said.

Acknowledging USAID and UHS support to the Punjab government in institutionalising public health supply chain management system, he said collaboration between the two organisations and initiation of new course would benefit officials at all levels of public sector hierarchy with technical skills in all supply chain functions.

“This skilled force will contribute and help the government machinery to forecast, quantify, process and store quality health commodities and distribute to the poor and the marginalised community at grass-roots level,” said Khwaja Salman.

Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Secretary Ayub Sheikh congratulated the Punjab government and UHS on taking this much-needed initiative and introducing training programme on public health supply chain management.

He said at federal level a new vaccine management system had been introduced which was appreciated at international level.

UHS Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Junaid Sarfraz Khan expressed the confidence that the course would impart its graduates global best practices in forecasting and quantification, procurement, warehousing, inventory management and would create a legacy of scientific and judicious practices in institutions where the graduates would return to.

Country Director of USAID Global Health Supply Chain Programme, being managed by Chemonics International, Dr Muhammad Tariq, said the programme was working closely with the health and population welfare departments to create functional synergies across the country to make the supply chain operations up to the international standards.

Punjab Population Welfare Secretary Dr Ismat Tahira said an effective medicine supply chain would stop cases of people being turned away from health facilities because of non-availability of medicines particularly vaccines and immunisation commodities.

UHS Public Health Department’s head, Prof Dr Shakila Zaman, said the USAID would organise a three-day orientation session for nominated faculty members of UHS on supply chain management module scheduled from July 18-20 at the varsity campus.

Former director-general of Punjab Health Services, Dr Nisar Cheema, also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2017

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