Ministry of Health Taking Ownership of eLMIS: The USAID eSCMIS Project Triumphs in Empowering Local Healthcare Heroes

May 29, 2024

In the realm of Zambia’s health supply chain, the USAID Electronic Supply Chain Management Information System (eSCMIS) project continues to demonstrate remarkable impact. This transformative project is currently unfolding with the goal of not just implementing an efficient electronic Logistics Management System (eLMIS) but also building the capacity of Ministry of Health (MOH) staff to take ownership and control of the system and use the data available in the system for continuous improvement of the supply chain performance. This progression of the project from initial implementation to the point where MOH staff are now starting to own and manage eLMIS deployment, conducting training, and updating critical tools like the eLMIS Central Edition (CE) and its client resource management (CRM), is nothing short of inspirational.

Ownership and Empowerment

Following several trainings to equip MOH staff with the skills and knowledge required to manage the eLMIS system effectively, the most transformative phase of the USAID eSCMIS project is currently underway, as MOH staff are beginning to take charge of the eLMIS system. The project team is working hand-in-hand with MOH to ensure a smooth transition. This process includes:

  • Equipment Maintenance: MOH staff have gained knowledge on how to take care of the physical infrastructure of the eLMIS system by ensuring its continued operation and maintenance. This is not only reducing dependency on external support but also instilling a sense of pride and responsibility.

  • Training and Knowledge Transfer: MOH staff are becoming trainers themselves, conducting training sessions for new personnel and other stakeholders. This cascade model ensures that knowledge is disseminated widely and continuously.

  • Tool Updates: The eLMIS system CE and CRM tools, critical for system optimization, are now being updated by MOH staff themselves. This marks a turning point, showcasing the capability of GRZ (Government of the Republic of Zambia) talent to maintain and improve the system.

Lorent Kabamba, Pharmacy Technologist at Ndola District Health Office

Mr. Lorent Kabamba, Pharmacy Technologist at Ndola District Health Office shares how his recent work has been a true reflection of this process. Following ZESCO management’s decision to close ZESCO Clinic of Ndola, Mr. Kabamba effected the deactivation of ZESCO Clinic on eLMIS Central Edition and redeployed eLMIS Facility Edition (FE) equipment from the closed clinic to Madando Health Post, as Madando Health Post did not have eLMIS FE. Mr. Kabamba says that details of Madando Health Post have since been entered in CRM as a newly deployed facility and the activity report has also been created. He says “I also oriented Madando Health Post staff on eLMIS system use and this helped them to start using the system immediately after deployment.”

Mr. Kabamba received formal training during the eLMIS pilot in 2014. He gained more capacity through on-the-job training (OJT) while working with the project staff and also through user manuals. He has since gained capacity in eLMIS deployment, troubleshooting and training, becoming an eLMIS champion.

Learning takes interest. There are people who receive training but do not level up. I always go an extra mile to research on various aspects of my work including how to download network drivers and browsers for the eLMIS network. This coupled with enough training and mentorship from the USAID eSCMIS project helped me deploy eLMIS to Madando health post on my own without any challenges,” adds Mr. Kabamba.

Benefits and Achievements:

The USAID eSCMIS project’s commitment to capacity building and empowering MOH staff is bearing remarkable fruits:

  1. Sustainability: The eLMIS system is becoming a sustainable and self-reliant entity within the MOH, reducing dependence on external support and guaranteeing its longevity.
  2. Cost-Efficiency: By reducing the need for continuous external support, the project is not only saving costs but also enabling MOH to reallocate resources to other critical healthcare activities.
  3. Improved Service Delivery: The efficiency and effectiveness of the eLMIS system, combined with the MOH’s data-driven supply chain decision-making, significantly enhance healthcare delivery in Zambia. This data-driven approach enhances accountability and ultimately leads to better healthcare services for the people of Zambia.
  4. Local Expertise: MOH staff are developing expertise in managing eLMIS, creating a pool of talented individuals who can continue to innovate and improve the system.

Instead of waiting for project staff to organize trainings or travel to our facilities, I have been going around facilities to conduct in-house trainings/orientation for facility staff, using AnyDesk [a remote desktop software application that allows users to access and control a computer or device from another location] for facilities I cannot visit physically. I use data quality to assess which facilities need training,” says Mr. Kabamba. He adds that, “this has helped improve the data quality as the number of facilities submitting inaccurate data has reduced. There has also been an improvement in antiretroviral therapy. Previously antiretroviral medicines would easily runout due to wrong reports and requisitions as facilities would request for less than they needed as a result of not knowing how to use some features in the system.”

Mr. Kabamba urges health staff to take interest in the system so as to completely phase out paper work and the tiresome double entry system which affects data quality. This is so because most people make entries on paper and let it pile up, but often sometimes forget to make the entries on the eLMIS system or eventually become overwhelmed and panic at the end of the month when they have to submit reports, resulting in poor data quality.

The USAID eSCMIS project stands as a success in Zambia’s healthcare system. By fostering true ownership and empowerment, it is not only improving the logistics management of medical commodities but also transforming the Ministry of Health itself.