Addressing Workforce Gaps in the Philippines for Efficient Supply Chain Management
Like many low- and middle-income countries, the Philippines faces health workforce shortages in critical areas such as supply chain and pharmacovigilance (PV) that threaten the health system’s capacity to respond to major health threats and ensure patient safety. The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) to strengthen institutional capacity for a robust supply chain system and services backed by efficient human resources.
According to DOH Undersecretary Carolina Taino, “The shortage of health workforce has been a long-standing issue in the Philippines, something that we had greatly felt when the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly hit the whole world. And during these difficult times, the procurement and supply chain management and PV staff who are responsible for ensuring uninterrupted supply and access to health commodities and patient safety have become more necessary than ever.”
More than 50% of the allocated Philippines’ health budget is earmarked for procurement and supply chain management (PSCM), but the DOH human resources master plan does not stipulate the budgetary allocation for human resources to manage and oversee PSCM. The absence of a clear policy in the human resources master plan causes fragmentation, duplication, and confusion, contributing to inefficiencies. The ideal organizational structure of the health workforce will include the right number of adequately equipped personnel appropriately distributed across the central, regional, and rural health unit levels.
Presentation at one of the multistakeholder consultants
Following a series of multistakeholder consultations in 2019, MTaPS conducted a workforce needs assessment for the proposed PSCM and PV functions of the DOH. The exercise identified competency gaps and proposed a workforce development plan with recommendations on filling the positions required in DOH’s PSCM and PV functions and on institutional arrangements to address the staff capacity needs.
Dissemination Meeting: PSCM and PV Workforce Needs Assessment Report
On November 25, 2020, MTaPS met with key DOH officials and other stakeholders to present and discuss the assessment results. A total of 138 participants, led by Undersecretary Taino, discussed the findings, proposed structures, and staffing needs for reorganizing PSCM and patient safety to support the country’s commitment to achieving universal health coverage.
“After this dissemination meeting, we are looking forward to filling the gaps. At the end of the day, we will have a very professionalized logistic management team not only in the DOH central office but also in the regional offices and especially at the local government units where we at the DOH as partners of health will be able to provide timely needed logistics that will resound to better health outcomes for all Filipinos,” stated Dr. Ariel Valencia, Director of the Supply Chain Management office, as she closed the presentation.
The development plan presentation was met with optimism, with key DOH officials and representatives agreeing to work on their organizational structure and incorporating the right people. MTaPS continues to strengthen its partnership with the DOH in addressing the critical human resources gaps for the effective management of essential health commodities for uninterrupted health services.