Supply Chain Management: Investing in the supply chain is critical to achieving family planning goals

Stockouts of popular contraceptive products are common and persistent across many countries (Figure 1). A review of supply chain challenges in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) concluded that various inefficiencies and bottlenecks across the supply chain contribute significantly to high stockout rates for modern contraceptives.1 Establishing and maintaining effective supply chain management is essential to making modern contraceptives available and thus helping individuals achieve their reproductive goals.2

Supply chain management organizes the vast network of supply chain players—procurers, manufacturers, shippers, distributors, warehouse agents, facility managers, and service providers—in a system to ensure timely delivery of products from the port, to central and sub-national warehouses, and ultimately to service delivery points and communities. An effective supply chain works when these players collaborate to make decisions on moving products, including how much to move, when, and how. To improve supply chain performance and increase product access, they need data visibility—information allowing them to jointly understand where products are in the system and which processes are blocking their movement. Figure 2 illustrates the interconnectedness between supply chain processes (i.e., forecasting and quantification, procurement, production, transportation, delivery) in the “end to end” supply chain, where a disruption at any point in the supply chain can result in lack of availability to the individual users at the service delivery point.

This brief focuses on key practices to strengthen the management of each step of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the service delivery point. Strengthening supply chains to meet the growing demand for family planning will require better data insight into product movement, strategic decisions to speed up product flows, adequate staffing and training, and consideration of how and when to leverage private sector supply chain expertise.