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Storage facilities need to be in line with quality assurance requirements to ensure the quality, efficacy and safety of medicines and health products given to patients. In addition to good storage conditions at adequate premises, storage requires a variety of complementary activities performed by qualified personnel including reception, inventory management and dispatch for distribution to subsequent service delivery points.

Requirements for good storage from central to peripheral level:
  • A facility with adequate storage and working space as well as infrastructure components that will protect commodities from harmful environmental conditions
  • Application of proper procedures so that commodities are always available, accessible, in good condition, and pose no risk of injury to workers
  • Availability of timely and accurate inventory data for decision-making
  • Qualified human resources in sufficient quantity to meet operational needs

Source: The Supply Chain Manager’s Handbook, John Snow, Inc., 2017

UNDP's support

Over the years, UNDP has participated in various projects devoted to improving storage conditions of health products.

1. Supply chain assessments

Sustainable and resilient health systems require a functional supply chain including the adequate management of central, regional or district-level stores. UNDP has been involved in supporting the assessment of national supply chains and its storage facilities in Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Tajikistan, Zambia.

2. Supply chain strategies

UNDP has also taken a role in the development of supply chain strategies in collaboration with national authorities, WHO and other partners in Sudan, South-Sudan and Burundi. Those strategies help to define priorities among the identified needs, establish work plans and related budgets, coordinate inputs from different partners and optimize available resources to strengthen the national supply chain.

3. Health infrastructure works

Several infrastructure projects have been undertaken by UNDP to improve storage capacity and conditions. As an example, extension of storage capacity at different levels of the supply chain (central, regional, peripheral) has been undertaken in Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

A new national warehouse has been built in Guinea Bissau. The malaria products warehouse of Bolivia has been renovated. In Sudan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, UNDP provided support to strengthen national warehousing, to equip and renovate storage facilities at different levels of the supply chain for pharmaceutical and other health products. All infrastructural projects are coupled with the provision of equipment (e.g. shelves, pallets, forklifts, ventilation/air-conditioning systems, Warehouse Management Information Systems) to implement WHO Good Storage Practices and ensure good storage conditions for temperature, humidity, cleanliness, pest-control, light exposure.

UNDP has also installed solar panels on medical warehouses in Angola, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This type of intervention ensures the availability of power for cold chain and controlled temperature storage conditions.

Infrastructural projects are combined with capacity development in the implementation of Good Storage Practices, related to personnel, premises and facilities, storage requirements, returned goods, dispatch and transport, and product recall. As an example, technical assistance on storage and inventory management at central level have been provided in Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan. As an interim Principal Recipient (PR) of Global Fund grants, UNDP staff participate in national technical PSM working groups involved in the monitoring of health products stock levels.

UNDP's offer

UNDP has expertise in the assessments of national supply chains with the identification of needs and their prioritization. UNDP can offer support in the formulation of supply chains strategies and in infrastructural projects aimed to address storage needs from central to peripheral level.

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UNDP’s Solar for Health initiative is used to build additional resilience in the supply chain equipping warehouses and health facilities with solar panels and therefore ensuring electricity for cold chain, controlled temperature storage and for computer-based electronic Warehouse management systems and Logistic Management Information Systems.

Overall support is provided through expert advice for complying with WHO Good Storage Practices at the central and peripheral level, among them:

  • Development of Quality Assurance and Good Storage Practices training programmes
  • Procurement and calibration of temperature recording loggers
  • Procurement and installation of cooling units
  • Development of self-inspection programme
  • Support to contract-out of service provider for storage and distribution

Key Resources

WHO has established standards for storage of pharmaceuticals, which are known as Good Distribution Practices:

For additional reading on storage and inventory management, the following guidance is proposed: