Ten years ago, in-charges of health facilities would make paper-based orders to National Medical Stores (NMS) for medicine deliveries.
Quite often, mistakes would happen in making orders and sometimes, these papers would get lost.
Moreso, paper-based work was so time-consuming and laborious.
In 2019, NMS partnered with USAID to digitize the health supply chain known as Enterprise Resource planning (ERP) system dubbed NMS+.
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This digitalises the day to day business of procuring, accounting and ordering or medicines from NMS.
The chairperson of the health Committee of parliament, Dr Charles Ayume has since commended NMS+, saying “it allows health facilities to order for medicines online hence enhancing accountability in the drug supply chain system across all health facilities in the country.”
NMS’ ICT boss Stephen Kisuuze says the system is helping in streamlining and accelerating delivery of medical drugs and eliminating delays occasioned by outdated technology.
The ERP digitally links NMS to more than 3,400 public Ugandan health facilities so that they are able to place orders for medical supplies online.
The USAID funded system is expected to reduce cases of drug theft at health facility level as there is a tracking device to monitor movement of drugs from storage to the final consumer.
There has been concern about internet connectivity in rural areas. But NITA-U Executive Director Dr Hatwib Mugasa says the government agency has partnered with other stakeholders to provide electricity and internet connectivity to rural-based hospitals.
The partnership of government bodies has increased hope that within the next five years all health facilities will be able to use the modern system, increasing transparency in the management of government medicines in public health facilities.
The NMS+ system system also addresses the rumours of NMS delivering empty drug boxes to the various health facilities registered on the system.
This is because their delivery system involves a triplicate delivery note which the district health officer and the health center in-charge sign and retain.
The NMS+ system enables NMS to access critical real-time data to guide planning for procurement of health supplies.
By close of 2022, 1,621 of the 3,400 facilities were already ordering their essential medicines and health supplies through the NMS+, and more than 7,500 health workers have been trained on use of the system by NMS with the U.S. assistance.
The system has since received commendation from the United States government.