Background: Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are particularly useful in low-resource settings where follow-through on traditional laboratory diagnosis is challenging or lacking. The availability of these tests depends on supply chain processes within the distribution system. In Mozambique, stock-outs of malaria RDTs are fairly common at health facilities. A longitudinal cross-sectional study was conducted to evaluate drivers of stock shortages in the Cabo Delgado province. Methods. Data were collected from purposively sampled health facilities, using monthly cross-sectional surveys between October 2011 and May 2012. Estimates of lost consumption (consumption not met due to stock-outs) served as the primary quantitative indicator of stock shortages. This is a better measure of the magnitude of stock-outs than binary indicators that only measure frequency of stock-outs at a given facility. Using a case study based methodology, distribution system characteristics were qualitatively analysed to examine causes of stock-outs at the provincial, district and health centre levels. Results: 15 health facilities were surveyed over 120 time points. Stock-out patterns varied by data source; average monthly proportions of 59%, 17% and 17% of health centres reported a stock-out on stock cards, laboratory and pharmacy forms, respectively. Estimates of lost consumption percentage were significantly high; ranging from 0% to 149%; with a weighted average of 78%. Each ten-unit increase in monthly-observed consumption was associated with a nine-unit increase in lost consumption percentage indicating that higher rates of stock-outs occurred at higher levels of observed consumption. Causes of stock-outs included inaccurate tracking of lost consumption, insufficient sophistication in inventory management and replenishment, and poor process compliance by facility workers, all arguably stemming from inadequate attention to the design and implementation of the distribution system. Conclusions: Substantially high levels of RDT stock-outs were found in Cabo Delgado. Study findings point to a supply chain with a commendable degree of sophistication. However, insufficient attention paid to system design and implementation resulted in deteriorating performance in areas of increased need. In such settings fast moving commodities like malaria RDTs can call attention to supply chain vulnerabilities, the findings from which can be used to address other slower moving health commodities.
Hasselback, L., Crawford, J., Chaluco, T., Rajagopal, S., Prosser, W., & Watson, N. (2014). Rapid diagnostic test supply chain and consumption study in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique: Estimating stock shortages and identifying drivers of stock-outs. Malaria Journal, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-13-295