Examining the Impact of Introducing Health Commodity Item Codes

December 12th, 2021 | Viewpoint


Over 12,000 unique items flow through Ethiopia’s health commodity supply chain under the management of the Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Supply Agency (EPSA). The agency is responsible for 80 percent of health commodities distributed in the country and serves nearly 16,000 service delivery points (hospitals, health centers, and health posts).

Vitas is an enterprise-level supply chain management information system that directs supply operations at EPSA. Agency employees have been using the system for a long time now but were struggling with high wastage and low fill rate. Upon further investigation, we found that there were a large number of duplicate items due to the erroneous entry of item names on the master list (containing a list and description of all items). Stock on hand, average monthly consumption, and other information about a single item were also found to be duplicated. This led to a low fill rate, high wastage rate, and poor report and requisition form (RRF) data quality. Health facilities use RRFs to report commodity consumption and request resupply from EPSA.

With the support of USAID Digital Health Activity (DHA), codes were developed and assigned to each item. When items were found to be duplicates or the same with slight differences in the description, the same code was assigned to them. Assigning the same item codes to similar products also helped to address the issue of stock out, by offering suppliers alternatives.

As evident in the diagram below, the change significantly lowered wastage rates. Additionally, the change boosted customer satisfaction by improving line fill rate and significantly decreased stockout rate. Facilities served by EPSA are now able to get stock according to their request.

Two graphs show the change significantly lowered wastage rates.

Written by: Biruk Asrat, DHA Supply Chain Project Manager

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