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Home Tech Zambian Hospitals Working with IBM to Replace Paper-based Inventory Systems

Zambian Hospitals Working with IBM to Replace Paper-based Inventory Systems

by Sam Wakoba
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A mother and child in Zambia. The Ministry of Health has tapped IBM to provide 2 190 clinics with easier access to 200 life saving drugs. Photo Credit – UNICEF Zambia

In a move set to improve the lives of Zambia residents, IBM has partnered with the Zambian Ministry of Health to help hospitals improve their record keeping and control their medicine stocks using real-time data tools and mobile technology. The firms will deploy a new medical supply chain pilot project using sophisticated analytics and mobile technologies to better manage medicine inventory and delivery.

According to aid Dr. Bonface Fundafunda, CEO at Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL) “With help from our partners, we have already introduced simple improvements in the medical supply chain that will save the lives of thousands of children across our country by 2015.We’re working with IBM to replace our paper-based inventory system with cutting-edge technology that can pinpoint the exact locations where stocks of essential medicines are running dangerously low.”

MSL will deploy IBM SPSS medicine supply forecast model, which takes into account local conditions such as the local rainy season, lead time and differences in each district’s demographics. This will help determine optimized distribution of drugs across an initial 2190 health centers.

With IBM Analytics and the IBM MobileFirst apps, staff at health facilities in three Zambian districts will use mobile devices with barcode scanners to record and transmit stock and utilization details to a central inventory control system. This will ensure continued access to vital medication and enhanced understanding of the usage patterns of vital medication.

“Zambia is taking strong action to prevent avoidable deaths by testing and deploying new methods to get drugs to people on time,” said John Makumba, operations officer, Africa Health Unit at the World Bank. “Supply chains are invisible and low profile, but when they don’t work, there are terrible consequences.”

To achieve the best availability of medicine in the health centers, the program will leverage IBM’s ILOG optimization technology to calculate the ideal composition of drug shipments based on available inventory, resources and historical usage. The transparency of the system means that each district will have a real time view of drug stock levels at the clinics and the ability to coordinate the transfer of supplies from one facility to another if required.

“The Zambian pilot is designed to be sustainable and locally owned,” said Peter Ward, solution manager, IBM. “Our unique analytics technology can help save lives by ensuring access to safe and effective medicines where they are needed most. IBM’s work to create smarter healthcare systems around the world is optimized around the patient, helping countries develop new patient-centric care models, and connecting health information through analytics.”

This is not IBM first health iniative in Africa. The firm recently launched “SMS for Life” in 135 remote viallages in Tanzania and has been rolled out countrywide to combat malaria.

Jérémie Gallien, Associate Professor of Management and Operations, London Business School says the 12-month piot project has potential to save lives, lower costs, improve better management of scarce resources, better procurement decisions, and improved accountability throughout the supply chain. It will also free up health facility staff from providing detailed paper stock inventories, allowing them to provide meaningful health care.

The public health sector in Zambia registers 100,000 deaths annually due to preventable and treatable diseases, the system aims to save more lives by making medicine widely available when and where it’s needed.

The system was supported by the World Bank, the Department for International Development, UNICEF, London Business School and Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL).

 

supported by the World Bank, the Department for International Development, UNICEF, London Business School and Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL) will deploy a new medical supply chain pilot project using sophisticated analytics and mobile technologies to better manage medicine inventory and delivery.
The public health sector in Zambia registers 100,000 deaths annually due to preventable and treatable diseases. The goal of the medicine supply chain management project is to save more lives by making medicine widely available when and where it’s needed.

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