ABUJA — Nigeria’s warehousing system had not been upgraded since the 1960s. Consequently, essential medicines and other health commodities cannot be adequately supplied to health clinics.
Since 2014, the Nigerian government has been collaborating with the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to create Warehouse-in-a-Box (WIB). The Federal Ministry of Health conceived the idea 20 years ago; however, challenges such as land acquisition, policy review and budgetary issues stalled Warehouse-in-a-Box.
WIB’s first phase involved renovation of select warehouses across Nigeria. Phase two focused on project design in six zonal storage hubs based on geographic and political spreads, disease prevalence and strategic proximity to serve surrounding states.
Meeting the set criteria and containing already existing storage structures, Lagos and Abuja were selected. The Lagos warehouse was remodeled with smooth dust-free floors, temperature regulating systems, security systems, thermal insulated ceilings and appropriate warehouse handling equipment. The whole project includes three warehouses.
WIB will support and boost the productivity of current Nigerian USAID-funded initiatives like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR currently assists more than 600,000 people with life-saving services against HIV. More than one million Nigerian orphaned children who are made vulnerable by HIV receive care through PEPFAR. In 2015, 40,000 were diagnosed with tuberculosis and were made aware of their state of health. PEPFAR hopes to double this rate by the end of 2017. Nigeria’s National Tuberculosis Program and USAID began providing a new regimen for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in 2016 that will shorten treatment duration.
The USAID Reproductive Maternal and Child Health Program reaches more than 60 million Nigerians with lifesaving services: health workers and adequate health personnel training, improved access to quality medicines, vaccines, medical facilities and reproductive health materials. Subsequently, the rate of under-five mortality decreased by 18 percent, the number of fully immunized kids increased by 22 percent, and more than 1.8 million unintended pregnancies were averted in the past three years because of family planning efforts.
Warehouse-in-a-Box’s medical storage facilities will serve as a central facility doubling the storage capacity of existing warehouses and reducing the cost and time the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health uses to buy, store, track and distribute medications to healthcare centres across Nigeria. More than 7,000 health clinics across the country will receive commodities directly from the warehouses in Lagos and Abuja. WIB is expected to enhance quick response, drug storage and supply during emergencies like epidemic outbreaks.
– Tiffany Santos