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Faculty & Research


Challenges in Pathogen Genomic Sequencing Supply Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: Exploring the Role of Communities of Practice

Working Paper
Pathogen genomic sequencing capacity in sub-Saharan Africa is at an early stage of development with multiple initiatives that are seeking to establish broad, equitable access. Supply chains for pathogen genomic sequencing materials in sub-Saharan Africa face numerous noteworthy challenges that have received limited attention in research. In this paper, the authors employ a qualitative approach incorporating extensive interviews and data analysis to highlight the most salient challenges from the perspective of key stakeholders in the supply chain. They identify nine categories of challenges, including long and unpredictable lead times, need for cold chain infrastructure, and uncertain future funding. The authors also find evidence that stakeholders have siloed views of challenges which limits their ability to conceptualize sustainable solutions with long-term impact. Significant variability in the maturity of supply chain management practices between laboratories suggests the usefulness of a cross-organizational learning approach amongst laboratories. To this end, the authors develop a set of design propositions for Communities of Practice as locally-owned structures for knowledge sharing and learning on supply chain management practices considering aspects such as the focus, format, and participant selection. The authors also develop an example of a Capability Maturity Model that we propose to be used as a supporting tool within these Communities of Practice. The authors argue that improving labs’ supply chain management capabilities could have positive spillovers for the entire supply chain.

Emeritus Professor of Technology and Operations Management

Affiliate Professor of Technology and Operations Management