The New Zealand government has announced a substantial funding package to support improved access to essential medicines across the six Polynesian countries.

Part of this funding will enable the mSupply Foundation (mSupply) and Tupaia Health Resource Mapping to work in partnership to develop a new Regional Health Supply Chain Centre in the Pacific. This resource will be rolled out to support Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu over the next five years.

The new digital health centre will strengthen all aspects of the health supply chain and is intended to increase pharmaceutical management capability, implement and integrate data management software, improve essential medicines lists and streamline procurement, warehousing and distribution systems.

Craig Drown, the Director of the mSupply foundation said, ‘the Regional Health Supply Chain Centre will help to optimise supply management systems and cut supply-chain costs associated with manual stock management reporting processes. Improved procurement and reporting tools and the chance to provide far more training will save health clinics in remote, Pacific countries valuable time and money.’

Initially, mSupply will be implemented (or expanded) in Tuvalu, Niue, Cook Islands to introduce mobile-based reporting and follow-up training and support will follow in countries who are already utilising this technology, with Tonga as a high priority.

Tupaia will play an important role in supporting health clinics and health workers in each country to understand and adopt new digital health reporting tools and systems through linking together existing software systems, providing real-time data visualisations and facilitating training. This will allow clinics to have oversight of what health resources are available across the region – via the Tupaia MediTrak app – and use live supply chain data to help inform decision making, efficiently target training resources, remove barriers to accessing essential medicines, and track medicines usage issues, such as those relating to antimicrobial resistance or opioid misuse.

This project will also see mSupply develop a new open-source Supplier Hub which will allow pharmaceutical suppliers and wholesalers to manage their interactions with countries electronically.

The Supplier Hub is a real game changer for health workers who manage medicine logistics. This will be the first full Supply Hub that will allow supplies and countries in Polynesia to coordinate and manage stock requests, tenders, Quality Assurance, traceability and forecasting in one application, in real time’, said Craig.

Previously, much of this reporting has been paper based and it has been impossible for health clinics to know what stock exists, where, and when orders will be received, making it extremely hard to coordinate logistical operations.

The Supply Hub will help solve this problem, by enabling better communication, document sharing and transparency between stockists and suppliers so that deployment of medicines can be tracked and monitored.