Promising Practices: 7 - Human Resources. Brief #7 in the Promising Practices in Supply Chain Management Series
(2014; 21 pages)

Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program. 2014. Promising Practices: Human Resources. Arlington, VA: Management Sciences for Health.


This series of briefs has been developed for use by in-country stakeholders. The briefs provide both proven and promising practices that may be used to address specific supply chain barriers faced by each country.

  • Proven practices are defined as interventions with proven outcomes in improving health commodity supply chains in low- and middle-income countries tested using experimental or quasi-experimental evaluation designs. Examples of proven practices are identified by this symbol throughout these briefs.
  • Promising practices are defined as interventions showing progress toward improving health commodity supply chains in low- and middle-income countries.

To view all the briefs in the Promising Practices in Supply Chain Management Series, visit

Human resources (HR) is a cross-cutting issue, touching every function in the supply chain from quantification to service delivery. Without motivated and competent staff that have the skills and capacity to operate the supply chain effectively and efficiently, no individual element of the chain functions.

Many low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are experiencing a crisis in human resources for health (HRH). The factors affecting this crisis are also key contributors to challenges countries face addressing HR for the supply chain. Not only are there simply not enough workers, the workers that exist are overworked, undertrained, and often deployed in ways that do not best use their skills or meet the needs of the people they serve. These problems are exacerbated by the “brain drain” of workers from LMICs to higher-income countries, the difficulty of retaining workers (particularly in rural areas), lack of consistent investment in HR, and inadequate and infrequent training. Finding well-trained professionals to support effective supply chain management (SCM) is particularly problematic because logistics tasks are often shifted to health personnel who are not adequately trained in SCM. Assigned health personnel do not know how to carry out logistics tasks such as how to quantify and procure needed medicines and supplies, receive and store commodities, and track inventory. In addition, health workers are mainly responsible for providing services, making logistics tasks a secondary priority. Despite a clear overlap between HRH and SCM, leaders from these two groups often do not have formal mechanisms for communicating and strategizing together...

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