Fostering Sustainability: Five Key Steps to Building a Resilient Pharmaceutical Supply Chain in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Five key steps that pharmaceutical companies can take to build a more sustainable and resilient supply chain in low- and middle-income countries.

Supply chain management is a critical component of the pharmaceutical industry. In low- and middle-income countries, where resources are limited, it is even more important to have a strong and stable supply chain. Manufacturers in these countries must take prompt action to make their supply chains more resilient and recover quickly in the face of possible disruptions. This comprehensive guide provides proactive steps that manufacturers can take now to achieve these goals. To trigger creative thinking, examples are provided for each step and can be used in planning when developing a robust supply chain infrastructure.

The examples are for activity purposes, as a guide, and are not real. Documentation list is not pretend to be complete and may include additional records/reports as needed.

Steps to Build a Resilient Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Step 1: Assess Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

The first step in building a resilient pharmaceutical supply chain is to identify potential vulnerabilities. Manufacturers should conduct a risk assessment to determine potential threats to their supply chain. This would include analyzing the current supply chain, identifying potential disruptions, evaluating the impact of each disruption, and prioritizing the most critical risks.


  • Review supply chain data

  • Identify potential risks and disruptions

  • Evaluate the impact of each disruption

  • Prioritize risks


Supply Chain Risk Assessment template.

Case Study - Example:

A pharmaceutical manufacturer in India conducted a risk assessment of its supply chain that revealed vulnerabilities in raw material procurement, transportation, and distribution. The company developed a plan to mitigate these risks by diversifying its supplier base, improving transportation infrastructure, and enhancing safety protocols.

Step 2: Develop a Contingency Plan

Once potential vulnerabilities have been identified, manufacturers should develop a contingency plan to minimize the impact of disruptions. The plan must have clear procedures for responding to disruptions, assigning roles to team members, and identifying critical resources which may be required.


  • Develop a contingency plan

  • Assign roles and responsibilities

  • Identify critical resources

  • Test the plan


Contingency Planning Checklist

Case Study - Example:

A pharmaceutical manufacturer in Nigeria developed a contingency plan that included procedures for responding to supply chain disruptions caused by political instability. The plan assigned roles and responsibilities to team members, identified critical resources such as emergency supplies, and tested the plan through simulated scenarios.

Supply chain management technology

Use of Technology in Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management

Step 3: Improve Transparency

Transparency is essential to building a resilient pharmaceutical supply chain. To enhance transparency, manufacturers can share data with partners and customers, establish tracking systems, and utilize technology for better communication and collaboration.


  • Implement tracking systems

  • Share data with partners and customers

  • Leverage technology to improve communication and collaboration


Transparency/Communication Assessment Checklist

Case Study - Example:

A pharmaceutical manufacturer in Kenya implemented a real-time tracking system that provided visibility into the movement of its products from the factory to the customer. The company also shared data with its partners and customers, enabling them to better plan and manage their own operations.

Step 4: Build Strong Partnerships

Strong partnerships are critical to building a resilient pharmaceutical supply chain. Manufacturers should work to build relationships with their suppliers, customers, and logistics providers. This includes sharing information, establishing clear communication channels, and developing trust. In addition, individuals and associations should participate in regular meetings with regulators.


  • Build relationships with suppliers, customers, and logistics providers

  • Share information

  • Establish clear communication channels

  • Develop trust


Partnership & Contract Assessment Checklist & meeting minutes

Case Study - Example:

A pharmaceutical company in Ghana established strong partnerships with suppliers through regular communication, sharing demand forecasts, setting priorities, and collaborating on new products and cost-effective formulations.

Step 5: Continuous Improvement

Building a resilient pharmaceutical supply chain is an ongoing process. Manufacturers should continuously monitor and evaluate their supply chain, identify opportunities for improvement, and implement changes as needed.


  • Monitor and evaluate supply chain

  • Identify opportunities for improvement

  • Implement changes as needed


Audit Sheets and Follow-up /Continuous Improvement Checklist

Case Study - Example:

A pharmaceutical manufacturer in Uganda implemented a continuous improvement program that involved regular performance evaluations, feedback from customers and partners, and ongoing process improvement initiatives. As a result, the company was able to identify and address potential risks before they became disruptions.


Building a resilient pharmaceutical supply chain is essential for manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries. By following the proactive steps outlined in this guide, manufacturers can identify potential vulnerabilities, develop contingency plans, improve transparency, build strong partnerships, and continuously improve. These steps will enable manufacturers to recover more quickly from disruptions and ensure that essential and critical use medicines reach patients who need them.


  1. Conduct regular supply chain risk assessments

  2. Develop and test a contingency plan

  3. Improve transparency through tracking systems and data sharing

  4. Build strong partnerships with suppliers, customers, and logistics providers

  5. Implement a continuous improvement program

By taking these proactive steps, pharmaceutical manufacturers in Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs) can establish a robust and reliable supply chain for essential medicines, ensuring adequate patient access.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on PharmaRead are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization. PharmaRead articles are provided for information only with a focus on global health, pharmacy practice, and healthcare systems in Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs). Readers should seek expert opinion for use, implementation or application of this knowledge based on their individual circumstances.