Supply chain management of laboratory supportive services and its potential implications on the quality of HIV diagnostic services in Tanzania
Background: Reliable supply of laboratory supportive services contributes significantly to the quality of HIV diagnostic services. This study assessed the status of supply chain management of laboratory supportive services and its potential implications on the quality of HIV diagnostic services in selected districts of Tanzania.
Methods: The study was conducted in 39 health facilities (HFs) from eight districts in four regions of Tanzania, namely Iringa, Mtwara, Tabora and Tanga. Facilities with care and treatment centres for HIV/AIDS patients were purposively selected for the study. The study utilized a quantitative method of data collection. A questionnaire was administered to heads of laboratories to obtain information on laboratory supply chain management.
Results: A total of 39 health facilities (HF) were included in the study. This included 23 public and 16 private facilities. In 82% of the HFs, ordering of supplies was performed by the laboratory departments. The information commonly used to forecast requirements of the laboratories included the number of tests done (74.4%; n=29), current stock levels (69.2%; n=27), average monthly consumption (64.1%, n=25) and minimum and maximum stock levels (10.2%, n=4). Emergency orders were significantly common in public than private facilities (73.9% vs. 56.3%, p=0.004). Delivery of ordered supplies took 1 to 180 days with a significantly longer period for public than private facilities (32.5 vs. 13.1 days, p=0.044). Most of the public HFs ordered supplies from diverse sources compared to private facilities (68.2% vs. 31.8%).
Conclusion: There was a weak inventory management system and delays in delivery of supplies in the majority of HFs, which are likely to impede quality of HIV care and treatment. Strengthening capacity for data management and ensure constant supply will potentially improve the quality of HIV diagnostic services.