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 collaboration of NTD partners solving supply chain challenges in delivering neglected tropical diseases (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, a unique public-private collaboration, has served as a voluntary platform for the World Health Organization (WHO), implementing partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ministries of health, and donors. Its primary objectives are to establish shared operating principles, strengthen national drug supply chains for NTDs, and address 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 NTD-SCF members and 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 members and 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 members and 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 working groups in collaboration with WHO, have been crucial in the development of the following tools:

  • Standard operating procedures for supply chain management of health products for neglected tropical diseases amenable to preventive chemotherapy: WHO plays a pivotal role in managing the supply chain for health products used in treating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The first edition of their guidelines outlines standard operating procedures for preventive chemotherapy and the range of medicines donated for these conditions, such as albendazole and azithromycin. These guidelines, prepared in collaboration with the NTD Supply Chain Forum, are designed for mass drug administration and are adaptable to country-specific needs. Future editions will expand to include individual case management procedures.
    Link: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240049581
  • Supply chain management of NTD health products for NTD programmes OpenWHO: Effective supply chain management is crucial for controlling and eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) through Mass Drug Administration (MDA). This course covers the comprehensive process, from planning and requesting donated drugs to managing waste and unused tablets. It’s designed as essential knowledge for all tiers of the health system involved in MDA for conditions like trachoma and lymphatic filariasis.
    Link: https://openwho.org/courses/NTDs-supply-chain-management
  • JAP Frequently Asked Questions: The WHO has updated its FAQ on the “PC Joint Application Package” (JAP) to enhance user understanding and streamline the process for requesting donated medicines for specific Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The updated FAQ, generated from a global survey involving national program managers to donors, complements existing training resources and guidelines. It covers everything from application procedures to approval timelines, aiming to ensure timely delivery of treatments for targeted populations. The JAP Working Group, part of the NTD Supply Chain Forum, vets the answers, and the FAQ will be updated periodically.
    Website Link: https://www.who.int/teams/control-of-neglected-tropical-diseases/interventions/strategies/preventive-chemotherapy/joint-application-package/frequently-asked-questions
    PDF link: https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/faqs-the-joint-application-package-for-preventive-chemotherapy-planning-requesting-medicines-and-reporting
  • NTDeliver: NTDeliver is an open-source information system that centralizes supply chain information for NTD medicines. The platform allows recipient countries to monitor available shipments of donated medicines from various pharmaceutical companies through WHO, including treatments for Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil-transmitted helminthiases,
    and Trachoma. By increasing the visibility of the NTD supply chain from order issuance to delivery, NTDeliver aims to enhance coordination among countries and partners for better supply chain management.

    Link: www.NTDeliver.com

    Weekly Email Subscription Link: www.ntdeliver.com/subscribers/new?locale=en

In conclusion, the transition of the NTD-SCF, now hosted by ITI marks a significant milestone in strengthening the supply chain for NTD medicines. As part of The Task Force, ITI’s extensive experience brings valuable expertise to the Forum’s mission of optimizing the supply chain for neglected diseases.
Under its new stewardship, the Forum aims to consolidate its collaborative efforts with key stakeholders like WHO, pharmaceutical companies, and NGOs. With a focus on data transparency, streamlining logistics, and coordinating efforts across various partners, the Forum has already made notable accomplishments like the NTDeliver platform and key guidelines and training resources. These tools are
instrumental in the Forum’s long-term objectives, which are aligned with the WHO’s 2030 NTD Roadmap. The collective expertise of the NTD-SCF continues to make strides in ensuring that critical medicines and interventions reach the populations that need them most, efficiently and sustainably.

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