Basic Principles of Supply Chain Management for Health Systems

Course programme


Many of the issues of healthcare quality and safety are consequences of poor management of pharmaceuticals. Globally it is estimated that an average 25% of the total health expenditure is on medicines, with poorer countries spending as much as 30%. Knowledge of the full supply chain cycle of pharmaceuticals and practical skills to enhance its performance are important, not only for managers in leadership positions but for all health workers. Supply chain management activities are fundamental to any health programme's performance and all personnel involved, whether it's an inventory manager in a warehouse, a doctor in a health facility or a procurement officer at the central medical store, must have a good understanding of the basic principles of managing health commodities. This course is designed to introduce you to the basic concepts of supply chain management with specific focus on pharmaceuticals and health commodities in a developing country context. Whilst covering a broad range of topics, the course delivery will emphasise the importance of integrating supply chain activities for overall health system strengthening.

Course objectives

After having successfully completed the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Define the essential medicines concept and rational use of medicines.
  2. Describe the different steps and processes in the supply chain management of health commodities.
  3. Interpret and discuss the roles of managers and different stakeholders in supply chain management, within the overall health system.
  4. Be familiar with underlying principles of good storage and distribution practices of medicines.
  5. Underline the key issues surrounding monitoring and evaluation of supply chain management.
  6. Appreciate the importance and need for quality assurance of medicines along the supply chain.
  7. Understand and critically analyse supply chain systems in different countries to identify practical approaches and intervention strategies.

Target participant group

The course is designed for all health personnel, business administrators and managers involved in the health sector, development cooperation, healthcare programmes and projects in developing countries. No prior knowledge is required, although practical involvement in the health sector is an advantage.

Teaching and learning strategy

The course is taught online on i+academy, a Moodle e-learning platform, accessible from anywhere at any time. The interactive course materials are presented sequentially under the guidance of expert facilitators from i+solutions who assist the participants during their learning progress, answer questions and stimulate interactions. Lessons are complemented and enlivened by online activities such as discussion forums, quizzes, and assignments.

Assessment and grading

Participants will be graded based on their online participation and their performance. A certificate of completion and an e-badge will be awarded to all those who complete a minimum of 75% of all online activities (lessons, quizzes, discussion forums) AND attain a grade of at least 7/10 on the end-of-course quiz. The percentage of completion will be measured automatically online as the participant goes through the course. The grade of the end-of-course quiz will also be determined automatically, there are an unlimited number of attempts allowed. In addition, there are several non-graded activities such as short assignments and short quizzes to guide the learning process of the participants.

Course duration

43 weeks

Level of effort: 4 hours per week

Course schedule

Week 1 Health systems - an overview
Access to medicines
Week 2 Introduction to the supply chain cycle
Selection of essential medicines
Week 3 Quantification of medicines
Basic principles of medicines procurement
Week 4 Inventory management
Warehousing and distribution
Week 5 Rational use of medicines
Quality assurance of medicines
Week 6 Human resources for SCM
Monitoring and evaluation of supply chain systems
Health systems strengthening from a SCM perspective
Course completion
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