Through a digitalised tracking system, all medical facilities in Uganda will be able to order medicine among other medical equipment via online by the year 2024. The new digitalisation process which is being enrolled in phases, started with hospitals and level four health centres (HC IV).
“We have so far covered 150 health facilities and hope by the end of June, we shall have covered all the 268 health facilities at that level,” revealed Moses Kamabare the general manager for National Medical Stores (NMS).
He further noted that once the programme has been enrolled in the targeted health facilities during the first phase, NMS shall not be accepting any orders submitted in hard-copies by the said health facilities.
“The second phase will cover thousands of level three health centres(HCIII) before shifting to the third phase which is expected to cover level two health centres (HC II) with effect from next year. We project to have integrated 365 health facilities onto this online system, by the end of this whole programme,” further explained Kamabare.
The digitalisation process, which is expected to cost US$10m, was funded by the US government. It will enable health facilities to place orders to the NMS and monitor them until delivery. The system will also not allow health facilities to place orders not meant for them.
“There are some medicines which are not meant for a particular level of health centres. So, in case such a health centre places that order, it shall automatically be cancelled,” noted Kamabare.
Computers among other IT equipment have also been provided to such health facilities where the programme is intended to be enrolled. Whereas some remote areas may have a slow and limited network, Kamabare assured that all such, have been planned for, and a “window created to cater for such occasions.”
Captain Alphonse Ochom the administrator of Katabi health centre III, welcomed the new innovation saying, it will go a long way in creating a bridge between different health units and the ministry of health. “Once an order has been placed and not delivered, it will directly be reflected and visible all the way to the ministry of health, which may in turn directly call the health facility and inquire,” Capt. Ochom noted.
“We have been faced with challenges regarding hard-paper ordering of our medical logistics but as per this programme, I believe there’s going to be an improvement in the process of logistics, distribution and improvement in accountability, accessibility and time,” further expressed Ochom.
Similar benefits were pointed out by Capt. Rollands Mugasha the programmes officer in the directorate of HIV, who said, this will be a better way of fighting corruption and drug theft. “It will be a better version of monitoring what may have been ordered for,” he noted. He assured that even without an internet network, there has been a window provided for timely operationalisation of the programme.
Kamabare pointed out a fourth phase where all people intending to acquire medicine, shall be required to login with thumb-prints as well as national IDs. This is intended to monitor the delivery of medicine to the final person.