The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Inviting Applications to ensure effective Health Supply Chains

Donor Name: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Funding round: Round 19
Fund name: Health Systems Strengthening: Ensuring Effective Health Supply Chains (Round 19) Fund

Funding brief: The health supply chain is comprised of people, processes, policies, technology and resources to ensure the right products reach the right place in the right condition. When effective, the supply chain is “the backbone” for access to safe and effective health products, and supports the goals of eliminating AIDS, TB and malaria, ending childhood vaccine-preventable deaths, and ensuring universal access to reproductive health services. An efficient supply chain also safeguards the significant financial investments on the procurement of health products by donors and country governments – estimates on donor-financed health products alone range from $7 – 10 billion dollars per year procured for low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Yet, public health supply chains are often sub-optimal and unable to support achievement of the broader health goals of a country, due to a combination of failures relating to people, processes, technology or resources. The recent UN Commission on Life Saving Commodities focused on increasing access to 13 critical medicines and health products that often fail to reach the women and children with significant implications on the health and well-being of both. Insufficient supply at the locations most needed was identified as one of the common barriers to access. The UN Commission noted that addressing barriers and ensuring access could save up to 6 million lives over five years and contribute to reductions in maternal mortality rates and under-5 deaths.

Recognizing the need for innovation to tackle these supply chain barriers, the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have collaborated to issue this joint call for innovative and potentially transformative solutions with the potential to overcome key roadblocks to more effective supply chains in low- and middle-income countries.

The challenge:As noted, supply chains are an essential component supporting LMIC health systems in achieving the SDG goals and ensuring healthy lives for all. Some of the key challenges we see include:
Last mile availability: Challenges in infrastructure (e.g. inadequate roads, electrification, etc.), people (e.g., lack of necessary competencies and accountability), and processes (e.g., existence and implementation of SOPs) create barriers at the “last mile” and limit access to essential health products for health system clients and patients.
First mile data: Multiple barriers limit efficient collection and reporting of critical health supply chain data at the health clinic or community level (i.e. the “first mile” of data flow). These include limitations in scalable tools and platforms that efficiently capture and transmit data in a way that meets the full requirements of local systems; overburdened staff with heavy data reporting burdens; and poor quality control of reported data.
Data driven performance management at all levels: Even where data is “unlocked” from paper tools—meaning that that data and information becomes accessible to other staff within and outside of the facility — weaknesses remain in how data is analyzed and used. Integration and analysis of data from multiple sources, particularly consumption data, and triangulation of data remains challenging; data are rarely used in a systematic way to inform decision- and policy-making.
Supply chain system design: Traditional LMIC public health supply chain designs often result in lack of supply chain efficiency, agility, resilience and responsiveness, as well as problems of execution. These weaknesses can produce unintended consequences that may impede achievement of public health goals, for example through increased expiries, increased costs, and/or lower availability at dispensing points.
Governance and accountability: The formal and informal incentives in public health supply chain systems, and the workforce that manage and operate them, can be misaligned to public health goals at multiple levels (from warehouse and clinic staff to policy makers). This “political economy” of the supply chain can lead to inaction, poor decision making, or rent-seeking behaviors that hamper the effective and efficient management of supply chain systems.
Sustainable human capacity: Years of investment in training and capacity building for supply chain management have, in many countries, failed to produce national systems that effectively or efficiently operate their supply chains without external support. Public health supply chains often face difficulties in developing, attracting, and retaining staff with the required supply chain competencies. Further, many countries lack mechanisms to produce a workforce that is able and available to meet the needs of the public health supply chain and similar supply chain needs of other industries.
Resource mobilization and supply chain operations financing: Sufficient funds are not allocated for or expended on critical supply chain operations, including distribution (e.g. vehicle maintenance, fuel, per diems, etc.), information collection, monitoring, and performance improvement. Information on the actual costs to operate the supply chain are rarely known or visible within the public sector.
Concentration: The Foundation and USAID seek proposals that address challenges in effective health supply chains that are daring in premise, and clearly different from the approaches currently under investigation or employed. The solutions submitted to this topic could focus on an integrated health supply chain, or they could focus specifically on immunization and/or family planning supply chains and their respective programmatic goals. They must have the potential to be scaled up or reproduced in multiple settings. We encourage solutions that translate leading and best practices and solutions developed by the private sector (e.g. outside of health), as well as academic research and findings, to LMICs in a way that support their public health goals.

Proposals must provide a strong rationale for the work proposed, demonstrating a clear understanding of country context and needs, and present a defined hypothesis and associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated. Proposed ideas must ultimately be translatable to practical interventions accessible in resource-limited settings.

Deadline: Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 11:30 a.m. US Pacific Standard Time

Funding details link:

Budget limit: Awards of $100,000 USD are made in Phase I. Phase I awardees have one opportunity to apply for a follow-on Phase II award of up to $1,000,000 USD.

Project start date: Not Found

Project duration: Phase- I projects have a term of 18 months beginning on the project start date. Phase II funding is up to two (2) years.

Eligible organization: GCE is open to both foreign and domestic organizations, including non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, international organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions.

Eligibility: As above
Submission mail: Not Found

Other important link:
GCE Rules and Guidelines Round 19:
Tips for Applicants:
Health Product Supply Chains in Developing Countries: Diagnosis of the Root Causes of Underperformance and an Agenda for Reform. Prashant Yadav. Health Systems & Reform Vol. 1, Iss. 2,2015.
GAVI Alliance Immunisation Supply Chain Strategy; Report to the Board.—gavi-alliance-immunisation-supply-chain-strategy/
UN Sustainable Development Goal 3:
People that Deliver. Healthcare Supply Chains in Developing Countries

How to apply: An applicant must submit under only one topic each round and may submit only one proposal. Submit your best idea. You may submit multiple ideas in partnership with collaborators, but an individual Principal Investigator may lead the submission of only one proposal each round. View the detailed topic descriptions and determine which topic best suits your idea. You must select a topic prior to submitting a proposal. You may change your topic and edit your proposal any time before the application deadline.
If you are an existing user, you can log in to your existing account ( users must create an account and submit proposals through online portal (
The foundation encourages you to use the provided application form, which can be downloaded at: Explorations Application Form ( You are required to submit either a Microsoft Word® or PDF document; no more than two pages in length. Please do not include a cover sheet with your proposal. A cover sheet will be automatically generated from your registration data.


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