Empowered with real-time logistics data, health facilities improve access to medicines; Ethiopia
Witnessing this on a daily basis was very frustrating, says Dr. Mehari Desalegn, medical director of Wukro Hospital. According to Dr. Mehari, availability of essential medicines was less than 40 percent at the hospital. At the same time, products worth more than 400,000 ETB (approximately U.S. $20,000) were wasted each year due to damage or expiry. The lack of availability of logistics data, including stock status and consumption, was a significant contributor to this.
The hospital management and the regional health bureau (RHB) decided that action was needed to meet performance standards set by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), including increasing the availability of medicines to patients. As part of this effort, the hospital—with support from the RHB, the Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA), and the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT (the project)—started implementing the Health Commodity Management Information System (HCMIS) in 2008, becoming the first in the country to pilot and fully implement this innovative inventory management system.
Prior to system implementation, the project provided technical support to reorganize the physical storage and improve the paper-based inventory management and internal reporting system. The project also supplied computers, printers, and other accessories for the HCMIS, and staff received intensive training and on-going technical support on how to use the system.
“Since implementing HCMIS, our pharmacy hasn't been the same,” says Dr. Mehari. As a result of HCMIS, the pharmacy department has been able to provide real-time and accurate logistics information— including average monthly consumption, stock on hand, and near-to-expire products—to the hospital management and clinicians for decisionmaking. The management uses the information to improve inventory management practices and to decide how much and when to procure pharmaceuticals.
Currently, the hospital serves more than 55,000 patients with about 2,500 admissions annually. Providing life-saving services to large numbers of patients is a challenging task unless supported by innovative technologies like HCMIS, adds Dr. Mehari. Now, patients can get their medicines in the hospital, at affordable prices. The hospital has received recognition and awards from the RHB, the FMOH, and from international partners for its achievements—all of which would be impossible without the commitment of the hospital staff and the support of the RHB and PFSA.
Using the experiences from Wukro Hospital, the project has expanded the implementation of the system to nearly 400 hospitals and larger health centers throughout Ethiopia. PFSA recognizes the value of the system, and has procured computers, printers, and other hardware to support continued expansion. Ethiopia is a pioneer in automation of inventory management in health facilities and it all began five years ago in Wukro, thanks to the vision of Dr. Mehari and the Tigray RHB and PFSA.
|Related Project: USAID | DELIVER PROJECT: Task Order 1 (2006-2012)|