During the TechNet consultation in Bangkok ten innovation projects that were given special prominence.All the projects are truly impressive in their scope, attention to detail and focused on collecting better data for supply chain management.
- Two are for system-wide supply chain modelling to help the ministries build more efficient distribution systems and make long term plans for the predicted the impact of new vaccines, new packaging and potentially new temperature requirements.
- Six are about collecting and sharing data for better supply chain management
- And two are to help programme data to be shared, one within a country and the other for sharing data internationally.
All these projects deserve to be supported to either succeed or to fail; the successful ones will improve the immunizations service, the failures will be a useful source of information on how to do better next time.I am however struck by the fact that these projects hardly say a word about supporting the people who will be asked to use these new technologies. These people are among the lowest-paid in the immunization service and who also work in the toughest conditions. High quality hardware and software need to be matched with high quality wetware: the people.
The organizers of the next Innovation Café should aim to have an equal number of innovative projects to support health workers to use the technology solutions. What do you think?
In the meantime, some suggestions for human resource managers: HR managers have the skills to improve recruitment,training and development,performance appraisal, and pay and benefit systems for the employees and volunteers in the health services.
- Lobby the technology developers so that the data compiled at the health centre is immediately useful to those who collect it. When a health worker reports a refrigerator that is outside the correct temperature range, s/he doesn’t need to have that information fed back a few days later – s/he already knows. S/he needs to know what to do about it.
- Work on new ways to assess reasonable salaries for supply chain and health centre workers. Think about ‘full benefits packages’ that not only include the pay rate but also other benefits that add status such as uniforms, paid time off, recognition for good performance, etc.
- Find new ways to reimburse expenses paid by health workers to allow them to do their work well for example, buying ice in the local market. Cell phone credits may have a role here.
- Develop new briefing and training methods so that courses focus on what the staff need to know and not repeat what they already know, or promote procedures that are not possible in practice.
- Find a way to productively listen to individual health workers’ needs, thoughts, challenges and their ideas to solve them – and help solve them.
- Focus on finding new ways to select the right person for a job based on previous high performance rather than academic qualifications – although degrees are important too, of course.
What are your ideas for solving the highest priority challenges to ensure that the staff in the supply chain are highly skilled and highly motivated?
One last point: while technologies are mostly developed in the North many of the best adapted applications of these technologies have been developed in the South. Mobile money is a good example that has transformed banking in Kenya while it remains in its infancy in the US and the EU.
Do you have any ideas to stimulate African solutions for Africa?And Asian solutions for Asia?