Streamlining imports of key healthcare goods

Early access to rapid test kits crucial in battling HIV, malaria


The Impacts

As one strand of a separate yet complementary project, The Alliance supported Mozambique in streamlining the pre-shipment approval process for critical medical equipment, especially rapid test kits (RTKs) for diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Replacing a duplicative, paper-based system has slashed processing times. Private traders, who import the vaccines and related medical products on the government’s behalf, see lower direct and indirect costs relating to storage and inventory issues stemming from delays at the border.  

The new system improves product traceability, mitigating the risk of delays because of misplaced, incorrect, or damaged paperwork, enabling these critical goods to reach vulnerable people, including children, more quickly. 

The project can make a significant contribution toward the government’s five-year comprehensive vaccination campaign and boost overall public health by ensuring that all Mozambicans, particularly children, are vaccinated against the most common diseases. 

The use of simplified digital systems: 

  • reduces the time and cost associated with paper-based approvals, allowing for faster movement of critical medical goods
  • make shipping RTKs safer and more transparent by reducing the risk of loss or damage
  • increases cooperation and collaboration between different border and government agencies, building trust
  • ensures more streamlined processes and thus fewer disputes and delays related to customs clearance.

The project may also improve public health by making other essential healthcare products more easily available. Women and girls – who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and malaria – stand to benefit most.

The Challenge

Mozambique is a country that has made steady progress in reducing child mortality rates but like many other places common ailments still represent serious challenges to public health.

Malaria remains endemic, accounting for 4.25% of global cases and 3.8% of global deaths, with pregnant women and children most at risk. HIV/AIDS has also hit the population particularly hard, infecting around 1.5 million people every year and causing almost 40,000 premature deaths.

Early detection and treatment of these diseases is vital in managing these conditions and in preventing their further spread.

In Mozambique, imports of certain products, including pharmaceuticals, are subject to pre-shipment inspections. Routine vaccines would take up between two and four weeks to clear border controls, delaying distribution while incurring the additional cost of storing perishable products in a controlled environment.   

Importers had to navigate complex, inefficient, paper-based approvals procedures involving several agencies and inconsistent classifications. Also, although vast quantities of goods were the same or very similar, every consignment would be treated individually.  

What We Did

Initially, the main problem was thought to lie with Customs, but data analysis showed that inconsistent, overlapping, or duplicative product codes at the pre-shipment authorisation stage were largely responsible for creating border delays by bringing individual discretion into play when classifying goods.

Alongside government agencies, local importers and global business partners, Abbott Laboratories, DHL Deutsche Post and Agility, the Alliance supported Mozambique in improving the speed and efficiency of clearance procedures by reducing pre-shipment delays resulting from inefficient processing of regulatory approvals.

Extending the service capacity of the Mozambique Single Window (MCNet) by digitalising the pre-authorisation process enabled the application and receipt of the mandatory Inspection Bulletin for Pharmaceutical Specialties (IBEF) certificates, which require supporting documents, including invoices, certificates of origin, air waybills, packing lists and proof of efficacy.

Besides automating systems and connecting to the Single Window, modernisation involved the essential task of agreeing necessary administrative changes, such as standardising product code classifications.



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