Leveraging Social Networking for Cascading Capacity Building in the Management of the Electronic Logistics Management Information System

Sep 14, 2023

eHealth systems worldwide continue to standardize procedures and develop more efficient and effective services thanks to the combination of innovation and technology. To facilitate better, faster, and more accurate supply chain data reporting and decrease commodity stockouts, Zambia has switched from a paper-based system to an electronic logistics management information system (eLMIS) to manage the logistics of its public health commodities. Maintaining the system depends on equipping Ministry of Health (MOH) employees with the knowledge and abilities to run it at all levels, from the central office to individual facilities.

The mission of the Electronic Supply Chain Management Information System (eSCMIS) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is to prepare the MOH to take over ownership of the system by enhancing the MOH’s capacity to manage it. The project utilizes peer-to-peer orientation, which allows users who have already demonstrated proficiency with the eLMIS to train other MOH staff. The eLMIS helpdesk WhatsApp groups have been an invaluable resource for facilitating informal training among colleagues. These are provincial WhatsApp groups made up of MOH staff from different levels of the health system who use the system and project support staff.

Frank Chisulo, District Lab Coordinator for Nakonde District, Muchinga Province, Zambia.


The project has always made it a priority to train MOH staff to implement, provide support for, and manage the system. As a result of bringing MOH staff along on deployments and teaching them how to provide technical support and supervision for the system, MOH staff in various regions are increasingly providing remote support to other MOH staff using the provincial WhatsApp groups. Mr. Frank Chisulo of the Nakonde district in Muchinga province, is one such example of a MOH trainer and eLMIS support person.

“The first time I got hands-on experience with technical support for the eLMIS was with another Ministry counterpart, Mr. Moono Chilinda. He had come to the district to migrate the eLMIS FE to the web-based version and seeing how I had already been assisting my colleagues with issues I knew how to solve through the provincial WhatsApp groups, he asked me to tag along in assisting him to migrate the system,” says Frank Chisulo, District Lab Coordinator for Nakonde district.

“I recall coming home for holidays in 2017 while I was in school upgrading my qualifications, so I could move from laboratory technologist to laboratory scientist, and I visited the district hospital where I work and learned that the hospital had been deployed with the eLMIS,” Frank says. “I’ve long advocated for an electronic system to manage lab commodities, so this was very exciting. But it wasn’t until I graduated in September 2019 that I learned how to use the eLMIS.”



Frank Chisulo, checking the eLMIS router connection at Nakonde District Hospital.

Frank has since assisted with 12 deployments, nine system migrations, and the on-the-job training of more than 25 eLMIS users. “The system aggregates all data and makes information readily available.” Frank says, “I enjoy seeing the WhatsApp group’s community grow and colleagues take a greater interest in the system, as these efforts help us build a robust supply chain system that serves our communities. I’ve trained two people in my district alone who are now assisting other facilities when they can; I even bring them with me when I do physical support visits, just as Mr. Banda did for me, so they can gain practical experience.”

Shadreck Chinyanta, a nurse at Nakonde Urban Clinic and one of Frank’s trainees, said, “I’ve been using the system since 2019 when we received training from Mr. Banda and Mr. Chisulo.” Shadreck states, “Frank has been extremely helpful, and he has always responded to, assisted, and supported us on the WhatsApp group with any queries we’ve had. Tagging along with Frank to provide technical support has taught me a great deal about the system. Because some places are hard to reach in my district, I sometimes assist with drug distribution using a motorcycle, and I make it a point to provide eLMIS support to any facility I visit that needs it. The WhatsApp groups are a good initiative because we all help each other.”

Since its inception, the project has trained over 4,700 MOH eLMIS users. For Zambia’s 10 provinces, there are 10 provincial WhatsApp eLMIS help desk groups with an average of 350 members per group. As the groups have evolved and grown, the project has taken on a more supportive role, empowering MOH staff to take the lead in eLMIS management. The project anticipates that the eLMIS will be able to be managed and supported by MOH staff members like Frank and Shadreck by the end of the year 2024.