The Ministry of Health has launched an integrated computer system to curb drug shortage and wastage in health facilities countrywide.
The system includes the provision of computers and trained staff to monitor the availability and usage of drugs in health facilities.
While many health facilities in the country order medicines through the National Medic Stores and the Joint Medical Stores, often health facilities in rural areas do not have enough medicines while many in urban areas are reporting shortages at the same time.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with USAID and Management Sciences for Health launched a 10 year supply chain roadmap that will increase accountability and sustainable development outcome in the supply chain of medicines in the country.
According to the road map, more than 1,300 computers will be delivered to 808 health facilities around the country.
Some of the beneficiaries of the programme are 22 general hospitals, over 80 Health Centre IVs, and more than 500 Health Centre IIIs.
Dr Eric Rugada, the Manager of the Management Sciences for Health Uganda said the new system will make it easy for different government agencies to plan for the health sector.
He said at the moment, the government finds it hard to plan for essential medicines because few health facilities submit completed reports on the usage of drugs.
With the new system, he believes planning will become easier since it will be able for officials even at the health ministry headquarters to monitor drug usage.
According to Dr Rugada, only 7 percent of all health facilities in the country submit complete reports whose data are used to manage drug stock in the country.
As a result, on average 15 percent of medicines in the country either expire, are understocked or overstocked.
Data from the NMS on Health Facility Stock Status Situation in the country for December shows that on average there was a 15 percent drug stock out of ARVs, laboratory re-agents, essential medicines like panadol, Tuberculosis medication and reproductive health medications.
In the same month, health facilities were overstocked with medicines for the above-mentioned categories by 35 percent while other health facilities were understocked by 30 percent.
To enable easy planning, other government ministries like; the Ministry of ICT has been included to provide internet connection while their counterparts in the Ministry of Finance will commit resources to implement the road map in the financial year 2022/2023.
Other ministries such as the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will also help implement the road map ensuring all health facilities have electricity.
The Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Public Service will also have roles to play.
This is not the first time that technology is being introduced into health facilities to improve performance and accountability.
In 2010, the health ministry implemented the Personal Digital Assistant’s project where health workers were given handheld computers to link health workers to each other.
Later in 2015 computers were sent to health facilities to enable the digitization of records.
However, at some facilities, the computers were never used.
The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng cautioned the health partners on celebrating early about the success of the programme.
Aceng said unless there is a trained human resource to man the computers, the programme might be a failure.
Implementation of the road map is estimated to cost shs 157 billion s(USD 44.8 million).
According to Aceng, the money will be used to install the equipment, train staff and carry out supervision.