A New Home for the NTD Supply Chain Forum

The Task Force is delighted to announce that the Neglected Tropical Diseases Supply Chain Forum (NTD-SCF), a multi-stakeholder partnership of NTD partners solving supply chain challenges in delivering NTD interventions, is being hosted by the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), a program of The Task Force, effective February 1, 2021. The Forum was previously managed by another Task Force program, Children Without Worms (CWW).

With this move, Cassandra Holloway, Project Support Specialist, joins the ITI team to manage the day-to-day activities of the Forum, working closely with the pharmaceutical partners representing the Forum Secretariat, reporting to Carla Johnson, Director of Supply Chain Management at ITI.

“We are excited to host the NTD-SCF at ITI and look forward to supporting the work of the Forum to strengthen the end-to-end NTD drug supply chain. Our goal is to ensure that programs deliver an adequate supply of medicines and diagnostics to endemic populations in the most efficient, effective, timely, and sustainable way possible,” said Carla Johnson.

This transition allows The Task Force’s NTD programs to consolidate, strengthen, and maximize on the collective supply chain expertise in the organization. “ITI’s experience in managing the multi-billion dollar supply chain for azithromycin donated by Pfizer Inc. for trachoma elimination makes it the natural host for the NTD-SCF as NTD partners get ready to implement the new 2030 WHO roadmap,” said Dr. Paul Emerson, Director of ITI.

History of NTD-SCF

Since its founding in 2012, the NTD-SCF has provided a voluntary platform for the World Health Organization (WHO), implementing partners, NGOs, ministries of health, and donors to establish common operating principles, strengthen national drug supply chains for NTDs, and resolve logistical challenges.

The purpose of the Forum is to:

  • Advance all aspects of the Preventive Chemotherapy (PC) NTD supply chain agenda
  • Improve data timeliness, integrity and visibility and enhance decision-making
  • Provide technical expertise to solve specific supply chain-related challenges, preventing delays to implement Mass Drug Administration (MDA) activities on the ground and avoiding waste
  • Facilitate “workstreams” to support additional projects Forum members feel are important and aligned with the overall strategy
  • Provide support and recommendations to WHO, ESPEN, regional offices, member states, and other committees on supply chain-related matters

“With the launch of the WHO 2030 NTD Roadmap, the SCF partners will continue to align activities and priorities to deliver a positive impact to the global NTD supply chain. The success of the NTD-SCF has been in the dedication, passion and commitment of people who support it. I believe that continuing to partner with The Task Force and embedding the NTD-SCF secretariat support within ITI will enable us to build on our supply chain expertise further, and we look forward to another decade of improved delivery of donated medicines for NTDs” says Tijana Williams, founding member and current Chair of the NTD-SCF.

NTD-SCF partners include the WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), pharmaceutical companies Eisai Co., Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck KGaA, MSD, Pfizer, and now Novartis, a logistics partner DHL, and nongovernmental organizations, including four of The Task Force’s NTD programs – CWW, ITI, Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center (NTD-SC), and Mectizan® Donation Program (MDP). Please see above for a full list of NTD-SCF partners:

Accomplishments of NTD-SCF

Stakeholders come together on a quarterly basis to collaborate on finding solutions to first-mile challenges and support last mile challenges in delivering medicines used to treat NTDs such as trachoma, soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, and lymphatic filariasis. Cassandra Holloway elaborates, “The NTD Supply Chain Forum provides a common platform for all partners to come together and explore options beyond Excel workbooks to manage the NTD drug supply chain using a web-based platform.”

The common platform is NTDeliver, a 24/7 online platform that collects information from all stakeholders to monitor and evaluate the NTD supply chain in a transparent and efficient way. This worked well as stakeholders were designated certain roles and responsibilities to report the journey of the NTD drugs from production to delivery. To date, NTDeliver has more than 1,600 subscribers representing 98 countries. The NTD-SCF aims to make sure every country receiving NTD drugs utilizes NTDeliver.

Responsibilities of the NTD-SCF Secretariat

The Secretariat, working closely with the pharmaceutical partners and the active Chair, provides management of the Forum and handles its day-to-day business, including:

  • Support the active Chair of the Forum in agenda setting, presentation development, and meeting structure; organize all technical, logistical, and administrative matters for meetings
  • Support Steering Committee meetings and communicating outcomes to the wider membership
  • Support and monitor NTDeliver development activities and deliverables agreed by the Steering Committee
  • Identify, monitor, and report on supply chain key performance indicators
  • Track donations and provide reports on a monthly basis (utilizing NTDeliver)
  • Facilitate project work and support the implementation of recommendations; ensure progress against set objectives is made
  • Support data management and tracking of donated medicines, including occasionally helping to address specific shipment challenges
  • Support further development and promote the Forum’s tools [e.g., NTDeliver and Supply Chain Management Standard Operating Procedures toolkit]

Working groups

The NTD-SCF currently has three working groups with a focus on specific challenges:

  1. The NTD Supply Chain RoadMap for Sustainability Working Group is tasked with developing a long-term sustainability framework in support of the 2030 NTD Roadmap to ensure the supply of affordable, quality-assured medicines, diagnostics and other medical products for endemic populations through 2030 and beyond
  2. The SOP Toolkit for Supply Chain Management Working Group is developing a suite of standard operating procedures, guidelines, and job aids for countries for effective and efficient end-to-end NTD drug supply chain management
  3. The Praziquantel Purchase Order Staggering Working Group is assessing the potential of staggering purchase orders for Praziquantel among ten high-demand countries to help balance Merck’s production capacity with demand

When is the next NTD-SCF?

The NTD-SCF meets bi-annually. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last NTD-SCF was held on a virtual platform on February 23-24, 2021. The next meeting is scheduled for September 2021. For more information on the NTD-SCF, please contact Cassandra Holloway at cholloway@taskforce.org.

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