Inventory Management Practices in Private Healthcare Facilities in Nairobi County

V Karamshetty, Harwin de Vries, LN Van Wassenhove, S DeWilde, W Minnaard, D Ongarora, K Abuga, P Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


Universal health coverage (UHC) is an integral part of the United Nations sustainable development goals. The private sector plays a prominent role in achieving UHC, being the primary source of essential medicines for many people. However, many private healthcare facilities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have insufficient stocks of essential medicines. Simultaneously, these same facilities carry excessive quantities of other drugs, leading to obsolescence. This suggests poor inventory control. To propose potential remedies it is vital to fully understand the underlying causes. In semi-structured interviews with managers of private healthcare facilities in Nairobi, we asked them about their (1) inventory control systems, (2) inventory control skills, (3) time/human resource constraints, (4) budget constraints, (5) motivations for inventory control, and (6) suppliers. Our results suggest that the problems are driven by resource limitations (budget and time/human resources), managerial issues (relating to skills and systems), and market mechanisms that limit overage and underage costs. Unavailability at the supplier level and motivations for inventory control are relatively minor issues. We posit that the key causes are interlinked and stem from wider issues in the market and regulatory environment. Our results challenge prevalent beliefs about medicine supply chains in LMICs and lead to novel hypotheses. Testing these hypotheses could improve our understanding of inventory management in private healthcare facilities and aid progress in achieving UHC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-846
Number of pages19
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number2
Early online date2 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Production and Operations Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Production and Operations Management Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'Inventory Management Practices in Private Healthcare Facilities in Nairobi County'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this