Case Detail

Case Summary

Infant HIV Diagnostics: Supply Chain in Sub-Saharan Africa

Case Number: 5-410-753, Year Published: 2012, Revision Date: February 20, 2012

HBS Number: KEL609

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Authors: Sarang Deo; Avidan Ben Har; Bill Shields; Mihir Naware

Key Concepts

Business Process Improvement, Government Policy, Health Care, Logistics, Operations Management, Public Policy, Service Strategy, Society and Business Relations, Supply Chain Management


Roger Osayende, a former management consultant, must advise the Ministry of Health of Ektu, a fictional country in Central Africa, on how to implement a new point-of-care diagnostic test for infants with HIV. In Ektu, mothers often transmitted HIV infection to infants during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding due to inadequate resources to invest in prevention efforts. The existing procedure to diagnose infants with HIV required collecting dried blood samples at more than two hundred healthcare facilities around the country and transporting them to a central laboratory in the capital for testing. This process was characterized by significant delays due to long transportation times, batching of samples in transportation and processing in the lab, and concomitant congestion in the lab. This delay resulted in loss to follow-up, that is, lost patients due to mothers not collecting their infants’ results. A new point-of-care device was about to be introduced, which would obviate the need for this centralized processing and the resulting diagnostic delay. The key decision under consideration is where to place the devices to maximize their effectiveness.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the importance of making public health decisions based on a data-driven, logical framework
  • Uncover the link between operational performance of the healthcare system and health outcomes at the population level
  • Appreciate the relevance of operational decisions in enhancing or diminishing the effectiveness of a medical technology
  • Use process analysis concepts to characterize various components of delays
  • Number of Pages: 24

    Extended Case Information

    Teaching Areas: Operations

    Teaching Note Available: Yes

    Geographic: Central Africa

    Industry: Government, Healthcare

    Organization Name: Fictional

    Decision Maker Position: Director

    Decision Maker Gender: Male

    Year of Case: 2011