Leveraging Private Sector Transportation/Logistics Services in Nigeria.

Paper | October 16, 2020

Sample transportation remains a challenge in resource-limited countries. This study assesses impact of using the private sector to transport samples in the National Integrated Specimen Referral Network (NISRN).

A study was conducted using a descriptive method to assess 3PL performance in a system implemented by the USAID Global Health Supply Chain-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project in Nigeria. Specimen quantities transported by the 3PLs providers over six months were compared to the quantities transported in the period prior to implementation. Using the 3PLs instead of health facility staff, specimens were moved from facilities with backlogs to laboratories with capacity to analyze specimens quickly through the enhanced laboratory network. Results from the study showed that leveraging the private sector to transport samples enhanced testing laboratory network efficiencies, including optimization of equipment utilization at testing laboratories. This resulted in substantial increases in viral load samples tested, reagents used, and facilities accessing testing. This approach led to an expansion of services, and a robust optimized sample referral network that can respond more easily to public health emergencies. Utilization of the private sector is a sustainable, cost-efficient framework. Utilizing 3PL providers increases patient access to services and allows facility staff to focus on their traditional role rather than transporting specimens. Additionally, the use of 3PL providers contributed to increased throughput of equipment capacity utilization. At the initial contemplation to use 3PLs, there were no adequate 3PL providers in Nigeria that were specialized in specimen transport. However, with the terms of reference and engagement of potential 3PL providers, in-country capacity for clinical sample transportation is being enhanced, which has improved country preparedness to respond to emergency disease outbreaks.