16 August 2016

Africa: Wambo.org - the New Online Marketplace

Savings of $250 million over four years projected

At the end of May 2016, the Global Fund formally announced wambo.org, a new online marketplace where currently implementers of Global Fund grants can check prices and place orders for directly for medicines, other health products and non-health commodities. There are plans to expand the reach of wambo.org even further.

UNITAID and the Government of Canada are discussing with the Global Fund various ways that they can support wambo.org. The Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative is involved in the development and rollout of the wambo.org platform. Other potential partnerships are being explored.

The Global Fund refers to wambo.org as "the future of global public health procurement" and says that the marketplace is projected to save at least $250 million in its first four years by offering health implementers competitive prices.

There will be a staggered roll-out of available products and services. Currently, long-lasting insecticide nets (LLINs), anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), and artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are available on the platform. Malaria and HIV diagnostics, condoms and lubricants, and non-health products, such as vehicles, are scheduled for the third quarter of the year. Non-core health products (e.g. lab supplies) will be available by the fourth quarter.

Wambo.org is open to all implementing partners now using the Global Fund's pooled procurement mechanism (PPM) and will gradually be made available to others as well. Any suppliers, large or small, who meet Global Fund standards for product quality are welcome to join, starting with those that have been awarded contracts following PPM tenders.

As the platform evolves to become a wider public good, it will open up to a broader user base, such as procurement teams in government ministries using government funding, those who have transitioned out of Global Fund investments and those funded by other public health or development agencies.

The platform works similar to well-known online shopping platforms, such as Amazon or e-Bay. It will offer three different levels of membership to PRs - from providing a simple ability to search and compare products and prices; to the ability to buy from catalogues and finally to order long-term agreement (LTA) products. PRs will be able to act independently, with billing made directly against their Global Fund grant, provided sufficient funds are available. PRs able to access LTA items will benefit from the economies of scale achieved through these agreements.

Wambo.org will eventually replace the current manual system in which buyers face a complex market with little transparency and data that is either incomplete or overwhelming. Limited visibility leads to suboptimal purchasing decisions, price volatility and the risk of stock-outs. Heavy administrative burden, numerous manual steps, and layers of ntermediary service providers slow down the purchasing process.

On wambo.org, buyers will be able to search for products, compare prices, select and place an order, pay for the order, and track and trace shipment.

Wambo.org will apply the Global Fund's Policies on Procurement and Supply Management of health products, including the Global Fund's Quality Assurance Policies for Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics, to all health products that are made available. Where applicable, sampling and testing of health products prior to shipment will also be conducted.

As of 8 July, three countries - Bangladesh, Mozambique and Zambia - have placed orders for LLINs, ARVs, and ACTs, worth a total of $76 million. There are currently 24 manufacturers with products listed on wambo.org.

The Secretariat has embarked on a series of regional workshops to provide training on how wambo.org works. The workshops target mainly PRs who are already using the PPM. Workshops have already been held in Bangkok (for Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Timor Leste, Solomon Island, and Fiji); and Dar es Salaam (for Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde, Angola, and Ethiopia). Five additional workshops are planned.

The Secretariat plans to cover the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region in early 2017 through in-country visits or a regional workshop. In addition, the Secretariat plans to hold one-on-one sessions with the top 20 countries using the PPM.

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