What is GS1?

GS1 is a set of global data standards that provide a harmonised framework for supply chain visibility to enable traceability and the safe passage of medicines through national supply chains.

What is the ISG’s role in GS1?

Following its inception, the ISG developed a roadmap and timeline for the adoption of GS1 standards in the labelling of all health commodities and products. Our role now centres on encouraging countries and organisations to adopt global standards, like GS1, and providing technical assistance to implement product traceability systems.

The benefits of adopting GS1

Adopting data standards to identify products and capture data in medicine supply chains improves not only traceability, but also the quality and usability of data from medicine supply chains. Global standards for product identification and for the capture and exchange of supply chain data are key enablers of global and in-country visibility and analytics networks.

The benefits of implementing a global standards system, like GS1, are far reaching and touch all areas of the health care system:

  • Safe, effective patient care that is accessible when and where it is needed to improve quality of life and health. Additionally, patients are informed of products and can report adverse events.
  • The ability to track products throughout the whole supply chain and across the continuum of care, identify the root causes of supply chain issues or adverse events, and consequently recall products.
  • The ability to track product outcomes, mitigate shortages and ensure access to the safest and best available products. GS1 enables post-market product safety surveillance to ensure that only the safest, highest-performing products are used.
  • Inventory savings and accurate data to support planning and procurement.
  • The visibility needed to address product performance. While promising practices have emerged from individual projects, most are fragmented and too small to improve persistent data quality problems, resulting in poor visibility and shortages.

The ISG has committed to the process of transitioning to include established, global data standards as part of their procurement requirements and support country uptake of these standards.

Countries where the implementation of GS1 standards is receiving support from ISG partners:

  • Ethiopia: support to the National Drug Regulatory Authority for the development of policy and regulations for the adoption of GS1 standards as well as in the design and implementation of a national level track and trace system.
  • Pakistan: support to the Drug Regulatory Authority for the development of policy and regulations for the adoption of GS1 standards.
  • Myanmar, Haiti, Tanzania and Zambia: education on GS1 standards and awareness building.
  • Lesotho and Uganda: GS1 standards required for warehouse management system enterprise resource planning (GS1 adoption as part of warehouse management system (WMS) implementation).
  • South Africa: implementation of GS1 standards.

The ISG partners are committed to working with all stakeholders to support these recommendations:

  • Work with countries to create policy frameworks to support the adoption of GS1 standards.
  • Align national supply chain policies regarding standards harmonisation.
  • Support and encourage investment in digital infrastructure to implement national product traceability systems.


Contact us

Please contact us for any collaboration or knowledge sharing opportunities.

We would particularly like to hear from government entities, academic institutions, implementing partners and community organisations looking to collaborate with donors.