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Innovations in health product distribution in emerging economies

Updated: Jan 21, 2021



Technology will change how health products are distributed – how should the global health community react?


Local technologists are changing health product distribution, but global changemakers struggle to understand how to engage them.

Tech-enabled innovations in distribution are emerging in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Donors, pharma, impact investors, think tanks and INGOs are unsure of the landscape and how to engage.



We analyse the trends and potential impact of local innovations on public health programs.

We track locally-driven innovations in Nigeria, Kenya, S Africa and Ghana. Market intelligence reports are produced annually, and shared with changemakers in donor agencies, impact investors, pharmaceutical industry and more.



Innovators are disrupting health product distribution in 3 key ways. Innovators are changing the movement of products to providers, enabling direct-to-consumer distribution, and innovating in the use of product information.

Models that change how products are distributed to providers appear to be growing and have high potential to generate public health impact. Tech-enabled distribution to providers could significantly change how products move to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and drug shops, while improving visibility, reducing prices and improving availability.

The growth and public health impact of direct-to-consumer models is less clear. The potential for e-commerce services to generate public health impact is not yet clear, but could be bolstered through increased investments and strategic partnerships with insurers, donors and governments.

Supply chain data can be increasing integrated with patient data, purchasing info and more. As product-focused companies develop direct relationships with consumers, insurers, governments and more – supply chain data are becoming integrated with patient data, purchasing and more.

Investment, interest and engagement with innovators in health product distribution is growing. Over $20M of new financing has been committed to the innovators we track in recent months. New financing appears to be concentrated in a few companies with strong ties to the US.

"New technology, better use of data, and entrepreneurial passion in improving distribution channels is reaching a critical mass with the potential to drive extraordinary improvements in availability, affordability, and quality of health products."

Prashant Yadav & Amanda Glassman – Center for Global Development


Future Work

On July 1, 2020, Impact for Health spun out this work under an organization called Salient Advisory. The new work can be found at


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