A resounding success
The delivery of critical medical supplies throughout Rwanda has been achieved through focus and determination.
Information technology and electronic data are not commonly associated with struggling and under-resourced African public healthcare systems, but Rwanda has turned this technology into a tool for transformation by implementing an electronic logistics management information system.
Through partnerships and innovation the country has addressed pressing health challenges within the supply chain and ensured that its people receive adequate healthcare when they need it. The solution that has been deployed is the first of its kind: a nationwide chain-of-custody pharmaceutical supply service for HIV medications and other healthcare products.
“The Rwanda implementation has examined the challenges that abound in the African environment — such as poorly kept paper records, manual processing, labour intensive administration and poor quality data — and found a way of addressing them,” says Imperial Health Sciences managing director Dr Iain Barton.
“It is a ground-breaking achievement, made possible through a collaboration with US-based One Network Enterprises and Imperial Logistics Group, Resolve, and the Rwandan ministry of health.”
Rwanda’s health ministry had been looking for a better way to manage the end-to-end fulfilment and delivery of medical supplies across the country. The project has shown how technology and the cloud can change the way Africa’s public health supply chains are managed and controlled.
“Up to 40% of the total delivered cost of medicines in Africa is made up of supply chain, distribution and other non-core costs, and this makes transformation in this area essential,” says Barton. “The challenge is the visibility across the value chain, from planning to execution. Often the infrastructure is inadequate, computer literacy skills are limited and there are no standard processes in play.
“As a result, solutions need to be both innovative and comprehensive and different approaches are required to change the paradigm and introduce efficient public health supply chains.”
The ministry of health partnered with Resolve and One Network to tackle these issues and find leading solutions. Their plan was to strengthen the forecasting, supply planning and logistics of all HIV and Aids commodities and other pharmaceutical and health products, as well as support for its programmes at hospitals, distribution centres, district pharmacies and healthcare facilities.
“The accurate and timely delivery of critical pharmaceuticals to the Rwandan people was complex,” says Barton. “The country is elevated, with a predominantly rural population. In addition, the fulfilment system was largely paper based and manually driven, so they needed a solution that was easily accessible, easy to implement and deploy, and flexible enough to overcome the operational challenges presented by Rwanda as a whole.”
The result was a computerised logistics management information system that provides health commodity logistics data and order processing functionality. It encompasses demand planning, supply planning, inventory management, transport management and reporting.
Today, the ministry of health can use the system to manage and track in real time the custody and distribution of medical supplies as they flow from distribution centres, hospitals and clinics all the way through to community workers. The solution has been implemented in the country’s central warehouses, 30 district pharmacies, 43 district hospitals, two referral hospitals and approximately 527 local health centres.
“These facilities are using the system to create, collaborate and manage purchase orders as well as to record daily consumption,” concludes Barton.
“As a result, the ministry has unprecedented visibility and control across its end-to-end supply chain while reducing its total cost to deploy, maintain and support this supply chain. It is a huge success, and is fast becoming the backbone that will support the efficient delivery of antiretroviral drugs and other critical healthcare products to the people of Rwanda.”