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Access to health technologies continues to be a key obstacle for endemic countries in the fight against malaria. Inefficient interfaces between the public and private sector keep health systems from functioning effectively.

 

Overview

Uncertainty in demand projections can exacerbate the challenge of controlling malaria, creating supply shortages or expiring drugs. This compounded with difficulties supplying the people in need with drugs, insecticides, and bed nets, can leave a significant portion of the population at risk. Despite numerous attempts to improve procurement and the supply chain in Africa, there is still a need for more reliable distribution.

Priority areas of focus for Defeating Malaria include:

  • Providing innovative approaches that address on-the-ground challenges to effective distribution and delivery of malaria interventions
  • Rethinking and developing new strategies for procurement that provide optimal solutions for endemic countries
  • Identifying novel ways to introduce private sector approaches to public health problems
Overview

National Malaria Control Centre, Lusaka, Zambia

 

Supply Chain Management

Faculty and students from across the University, including those from the Harvard Business School (HBS), the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences bring unique perspectives on how to improve access to health technologies as well as best practices on supply chain coordination from other areas with products with uncertain demand. By identifying operational changes that better match demand for malaria interventions with the supply, new opportunities exist to strengthen malaria supply chains around the world.

Supply Chain Management
Malaria products such as Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs), and Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) have unique product characteristics that present particular logistics and program management challenges. A well-functioning and integrated supply chain is important to ensure continued availability of malaria products to its intended end-user.

Featured Research

Professor Jessica Cohen, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is also Malaria Technical Adviser with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. She is currently working on a number of field trials in Africa related to appropriate treatment for malaria, technology adoption, messaging and behavior change and pharmaceutical supply chains. These include a study into whether subsidies for over-the-counter malaria tests in African pharmacies can be used to encourage adoption of the tests and reduce over-treatment with malaria medicine. She has also conducted a study of the bed net market in rural Kenya, with findings indicating that a reduction in subsidy from 100% to 90% (which represents an increase in price from $0 to $0.60) led to a significant drop in bed net uptake. Conversely, women who paid for a bed net were no more likely to use them than those who received bed nets for free, suggesting that uptake is very sensitive to price, but usage is not.

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“Part of our core mission is to ensure that knowledge is translated into policy, effective leadership is a crucial link in that chain.”
- Professor Michael Reich

Ministerial Leadership in Health

Ministers of health have responsibility for one of the most complex government portfolios – maintaining public health services, ensuring availability of essential health and emergency care, negotiating for scarce resources and managing public expectations.

The Ministerial Leadership in Health (MLIH) Program is a joint initiative of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School in collaboration with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Launched in 2012 by Julio Frenk, former health minister and dean of the faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Program aims to recognize and promote transformational leadership among ministers of health as an essential element in sustainable health systems strengthening, improving service delivery and better health outcomes. As part of the program, ministers are asked to identify a single key health challenge facing their home country and to apply knowledge gained during the program to reform it. When ministers return to their home countries, Harvard faculty and technical advisors offer support in carrying out the reform.

 

Virtual Communities of Expertise

The Global Health Delivery Online (GHDonline) initiative at HMS is a platform of expert-led communities and offers the Malaria Treatment & Prevention Network – this virtual community is made up of policymakers, national control program professionals, and practitioners who problem solve and exchange best practices in this community with the goal of improving the prevention, management, and treatment of malaria.

Numerous Harvard faculty and researchers contribute to topics such as diagnostics and treatment; operations and logistics; prevention; vector control; and volunteer or work opportunities. The GHDonline is supported by the following Harvard founding collaborators:

Virtual Communities of Expertise
185

Countries; 19,354 People, and 7,009 Organizations participate on GHDonline

Where the global health community connects.