Adapting Systems to an Emergency in Zambia

July 15th, 2021 | Viewpoint


The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on health care systems and provision around the world. In Zambia, it necessitated changes in supply chain design and technology to handle the large-scale distribution of COVID-19-related products.

Because it was a new disease, some COVID-19-specific commodities were unavailable in the mainstream supply chain. In an effort to allocate such commodities to provinces in an equitable way, the Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced a system in which district health facilities submitted paper reports to provincial health offices (PHOs) detailing their COVID-19-related commodity inventory and orders. The PHOs aggregated the reports and submitted data from them to the eLMIS Central Edition. This process lengthened the supply chain’s overall turnaround time.

The epidemic, noted Kaluwila Chigembu, a pharmacist at Lusaka’s Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital, touched every aspect of the supply chain. “We would receive COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, and HIV. We had to make sure that not just COVID-19 products were readily available, but also basic mobility medications for immune-compromised patients, all while working with unpredictable consumption data.”

To phase out the time-consuming paper-based system, the USAID Electronic Supply Chain Management Information System (eSCMIS) Project worked with the USAID DISCOVER-Health project, implemented by JSI, the MOH and the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supply Agency (ZAMMSA), to incorporate COVID-19 products into the eLMIS. Frontline supply chain managers, such as employees at facility labs and pharmacies, have helped their facilities report and order required commodities on time by providing real-time data on supply chain requirements. This not only streamlined logistics from start to finish, but it also provided much-needed visibility into the movement of vital COVID-19 commodities.

The new product supply and data flow will establish a consistent management framework for all COVID-19 product logistics delivery. Dashboards and data for COVID-19 commodities are now available at the national, subnational, and district levels, all of which display stock on hand and consumption patterns. See the dashboard statistics for zinc pills below.

dashboard statistics for zinc pills

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