Zambia‘s health logistics have been managed using the electronic logistics management information system (eLMIS) since 2014, when the Central Edition (CE) was introduced, followed by the Facility Edition (FE) in 2016. The goal is for the Zambian government to take over management of these systems. Over the years, the projects responsible for the software’s implementation have worked to train and empower Ministry of Health staff (MOH) to deploy and manage the system. These initiatives are evident in Lusaka District, where MOH staff are at the forefront of technical support and supervision
“It all started with incredibly low reporting rates,” says Joseph Miselo, a pharmacist from the Lusaka District Health Office’s (DHO) ART Hub. “The district pharmacist called and encouraged us to check into the poor reporting rates for the ARV program area.” Miselo continued, “Working with the Lusaka district pharmacy coordinator, Kendo Simaimbula, I developed a WhatsApp group called the Lusaka eLMIS Champions, which consists of the majority of pharmacists in the district. From there we began to follow up with facilities on their reporting rates and offer support whenever we can.”
With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, through the USAID Electronic Supply Chain Management Information System (eSCMIS) project, the eLMIS is implemented by John Snow Health Zambia, Limited. The eSCMIS project has developed a Transition and Sustainability plan for how eLMIS ownership and management will be transferred to MOH. This includes providing pharmacists like Joseph and his coworkers with ongoing training and assistance. “We can manage a wide range of system concerns, and facilities can rely on us for assistance. If we run across a problem that is too complicated at this point, we always escalate it to the project’s systems implementation and support team” says Joseph.
“We’ve been slowly recruiting MOH staff to join these teams,” says Linda Nyondo Kaposhi, Lusaka District Pharmacist. “The first team is at the DHO, and others come from different facilities, especially larger hospitals that have the eLMIS in different parts like the bulk stores and labs. We want to build capacity of these MOH members to supervise and support their facilities.”
The Lusaka DHO technical assistance has been effective, as evidenced by the improvement in facility reporting rates and timeliness (see bar chart). As a result, facilities get commodities on schedule, enhancing commodity availability.
“We want to expand our numbers and strengthen our system management skills. Having MOH officials come along when they undertake deployment and migration has definitely helped us improve what we know about eLMIS,” notes pharmacist Joseph Miselo. “I am optimistic that many MOH employees will be able to assist their respective districts and provinces in the future.