The National Medical Stores is training health workers across the country ahead of the rollout of its digitized system, dubbed NMS plus.
The system that allows health facilities will be able to place orders and track them online, will be rolled out in four phases beginning next month. The first phase covers the 268 Health centre IVs, general, regional and national referral hospitals while the rest of the phases will be rolled out in the next two years in the health Centre III’s and Health Centre-IIs, across the country.
Currently, most facilities place orders through email or by hand delivery to NMS regional offices. But the process is slow and tedious. Moses Kamabare, the General Manager at NMS says the agency began with a a pilot study that was done six months ago at seven facilities including the regional referral hospitals in Jinja and Mubende.
Since then, health workers, mainly in-charges and storekeepers, from 144 facilities have been trained. The training, taking place at Katabi Military Hospital in Entebbe Municipality will go on until mid this month when all the 268 facilities will be expected to start placing orders online. The project is funded by the US government at a cost of 10 million US Dollars (about 37 billion Shillings)
Kamabare says digitizing the supply chain will enhance transparency in the procurement and delivery of medical supplies in the country, and is also optimistic that through the process, NMS will be able to identify avenues for drug theft and stop facilities that were ordering for more than they can consume in a given period.
Stephen Kisuze, the Chief ICT Officer at NMS says that digitizing the supply chain will streamline quantification and ensure patients can be traced by the end of the fourth phase of the project. He explains that the current paper-based processes have a lot of challenges and often delay key decisions.
By 2023, all the 3,066 public health facilities must be enrolled into the digitized system. Kamabare says that by that time, even details of each patient who will get treatment at the facilities will be recorded into the system.
Capt. Ronald Mugasha, the Program Officer for Logistics at the Directorate of HIV in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF lauds NMS for digitizing the supply chain, saying it is easier to report and rectify discrepancies.