A lack of trained staff with the right skills has seen the region frequently facing supply chain system breakdown and poor performance, leading to product stockouts and expiries, experts have warned. The concerns were raised on Monday, June 5, as health experts from the East Africa Community (EAC) region kicked off a three-day meeting in Kigali to, among others, take steps to professionalize the health supply chain. ALSO READ: Kigali-based vaccines centre gets $17m funding. What it means Representatives from Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda were present at the meeting, organized by the East African Community Regional Centre of Excellence for Vaccines, Immunization and Health Supply Chain Management (EAC RCE–VIHSCM) as well as People that Deliver (PtD), an international leading organisation in supply chain management. ALSO READ: Rwanda to host regional centre of excellence on vaccines “All of these countries are here because they see professionalization of the supply chain workforce and the PtD Professionalisation framework as fundamental to strengthening their health supply chains and improving the availability of health supplies,” said Dominique Zwinkels, Executive Manager of PtD. For Zwinkels, this is compounded by a lack of recognition among many health institutions of the vital role supply chain personnel play in the performance of health systems. “This journey of professionalization is very much high on everybody’s agenda but very little progress has been made and we need to think about how we take our countries to higher levels, and also ensure that we are committed.” Professionalisation, which has been identified as the best way to develop skilled and motivated supply chain professionals, is a process that increases the supply of skilled personnel in the health supply chain to satisfy current and future market demands. Zwinkels shared similar sentiments with Stephen Karengera, Director of the East African Community, Regional Centre of Excellence for Vaccines, Immunization and Health Supply Chain Management (EAC RCE-VIHSCM). “We’re pleased to bring EAC partner states together to talk about how to professionalize the health supply chain. For the EAC community, investing in this sector is a top priority if we are to reach the SDG targets by 2030 and ultimately, universal health coverage.” According to Karengera, the four day meeting is an opportune moment for participants to learn about best practices and the challenges of implementing a professionalization agenda in the health supply chain. The participants are also expected to develop country specific roadmaps that define the steps needed to attain a professionalized supply chain workforce that is skilled and motivated, deployed in the right number and enjoys conducive working conditions.