Supply Chains and Global Health: An Imperative for Bringing Operations Management Scholarship into Action



Many people in developing countries do not have access to effective vaccines, medicines, and other life-saving health technologies. Shortage of health care workers, severe financial constraints, and lack of awareness are some of the major obstacles that prevent higher access. However, ineffective and poorly designed supply chains for purchasing and distributing the medicines, vaccines, and health technologies are one of the most important barriers to increasing access. We argue that the ineffectiveness of the global health supply chain can be attributed largely to: coordination problems across multiple stakeholders with widely divergent objectives, lack of careful supply chain design, and use of myopic operational objectives and metrics. The operations management research community can contribute to improving this by applying existing knowledge to the field of global health delivery and by researching new frameworks of analysis which would then become the cornerstones for policy advice to those who design, operate, or finance these supply chains.