A Vital Balancing Act: staff hone logistics skills for continued fight against Ebola

07 April 2015

Since 2009, Madame Fatoumata Dieng (see above, first left) has been working at Donka Hospital in Conakry, where she is the Head Pharmacist. This hospital is now responding to the recent and concerning spike in Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases affecting the country’s capital, and is currently treating 25 confirmed EVD patients.

Fatoumata attended the first session of the 'Logistics Best Practices training' organized by the Logistics Cluster, together with Bioforce Institute, the Government of Guinea and the System for improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS). In fact, besides Fatoumata, more than 50% of the participants involved in this first training session were female staff members.

The training was organized in order to improve the logistics capacity and effectiveness of national government staff in the handling and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essential gear used in the fight against Ebola.

Topics covered stock level management, warehouse management, item management, pharmaceutical practices (covered by SIAPS) and one full day of practical simulation of a national supply chain management, among many other topics. The final day, facilitated by the Logistics Cluster Coordinator, was spent at the Logistics Cluster main base in Conakry, where the participants saw best-practice warehouse handling in action. 

Fatoumata was very impressed by the visit and explained, ‘this training will help me change and improve the way we manage our warehouse; it’s definitely been a very positive and enriching experience. Thanks to the training, I learned that having a full warehouse isn’t necessarily a good thing. To the contrary, the optimal level of goods stored in the warehouse has to be calculated depending on the need that there is for those goods. Managing the warehouse means I am in charge of the amount of stock that I want to store in the warehouse and now I know how to calculate it, thanks to some helpful formulas provided.

With a warehouse too full, I may run the risk that these sensitive goods could perish, whereas with too low levels of stock, I could run out of these life-saving goods. Being able to maintain the right balance is therefore key, and this is particularly true with the kind of goods we deal with in the response to the Ebola Virus Disease, be it Personal Protective Equipment or medicines. The training taught me how to calculate the optimal level of stocks to keep in the warehouse, so that I can effectively manage it, calling for more stocks when they are needed. A well-organised warehouse translates into an effective supply of these goods and ultimately, into an effective response to the fight against EVD in Guinea.’

A total of four week-long sessions have been organized, and by mid-April more than 60 people will have been trained and will be better prepared in the continued fight against EVD.