The Alliance is working with the Government of Botswana and UNICEF to cut red tape around importing a range of essential vaccines and associated medical products.
This project aims to reduce processing times and delays in receiving approvals for vaccines before they arrive at the country’s border, improve visibility and cooperation between key government ministries, health agencies, and customs, and cut costs stemming from vaccine storage and inventory management.
UNICEF imports a range of medical products into Botswana, including vaccines for diphtheria, measles and rubella, polio, tetanus, and tuberculosis. UNICEF procures the vaccines on behalf of Central Medical Stores (CMS), the government agency tasked with importing and distributing medicines for the public health system. All medicines and medical products entering Botswana must be approved by the pharmaceutical regulator, Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BoMRA).
Traditionally, vaccines require written government authorisation before shipment. Like many countries in the region, Botswana’s application and approval procedures are paper-based, and the entire process must be repeated for each consignment, making it particularly time-consuming. Also, approvals need to be shared among multiple agencies, heightening the risk of lost or incomplete documentation. The overall result is that vaccines can wait for several weeks in storage, driving up costs.
What we are doing
Working alongside government ministries and agencies and tapping into UNICEF’s expertise in procuring and transporting vaccines and other supplies, this project will digitalise existing processes by integrating them into Botswana’s electronic Single Window system and establish procedures for relevant government ministries, agencies, and customs to coordinate more effectively on vaccine imports.
Also, the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) will make necessary IT changes to the Single Window system to allow for the expedited issuance of vaccine import authorisations. BoMRA will also examine introducing a master authorisation certificate that could cover multiple shipments.
Finally, we will work with partners to establish a permanent public-private working group to bring together key stakeholders in the public health program supply chain. The group will provide a forum to evaluate adjusting processes as needed, expand the focus to other healthcare products, and resolve unexpected issues.
The Alliance is implementing this project in cooperation with Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness and Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, as well as BoMRA, BURS, CMS, and the National Trade Facilitation Committee. Alliance business partners will provide their industry expertise and relevant data.
Digitalisation of processes and closer coordination among relevant agencies will help ensure the availability of much-needed vaccines and free up government resources for other key priorities. It will also:
- reduce the time needed to import critical vaccines and associated products,
- increase cooperation and collaboration between the different border and government agencies, and
- lower the costs associated with storage and inventory management.
The project is expected to take 12 months.
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