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Zambian Government and IBM to Provide Improved Access to Life Saving Drugs

IBM has announced a collaboration with the Zambian Ministry of Health to provide citizens with improved access to 200 lifesaving drugs.

Supported by the World Bank, the Department for International Development, UNICEF and London Business School, Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL) will deploy a new medical supply chain pilot project using sophisticated analytics and mobile technologies to better manage medicine inventory and delivery.

The public health sector in Zambia registers 100,000 deaths annually due to preventable and treatable diseases. The goal of the medicine supply chain management project is to save more lives by making medicine widely available when and where it’s needed.

The Ministry of Health is introducing innovative technology to manage a scalable supply chain and control the usage, supply, availability and access to essential medicine within the Zambian health sector. The solution will provide a real-time view of drug usage and stock while analysing data to identify trends and forecasts to prevent gaps in the medical supply chain.

“With help from our partners, we have already introduced simple improvements in the medical supply chain that will save the lives of thousands of children across our country by 2015,”said Dr. Bonface Fundafunda, CEO at MSL. “To build on these gains, we’re working with IBM to replace our paper-based inventory system with cutting-edge technology that can pinpoint the exact locations where stocks of essential medicines are running dangerously low.”

Using the IBM SPSS medicine supply forecast model, which takes into account local conditions such as the local rainy season, lead time and differences in each district’s demographics, MSL will be able to determine optimised distribution of drugs across an initial 2190 health centres.

"Zambia is taking strong action to prevent avoidable deaths by testing and deploying new methods to get drugs to people on time,” said John Makumba, operations officer, Africa Health Unit at the World Bank. “Supply chains are invisible and low profile, but when they don’t work, there are terrible consequences."

The IBM Analytics capabilities will be integrated with the IBM MobileFirst application development portfolio, enabling staff at health facilities in three Zambian districts to use mobile devices with barcode scanners to record and transmit stock and utilisation details to a central inventory control system. This will ensure continued access to vital medication and enhanced understanding of the usage patterns of vital medication.

To achieve the best availability of medicine in the health centres, the program will leverage IBM’s ILOG optimisation technology to calculate the ideal composition of drug shipments based on available inventory, resources and historical usage. The transparency of the system means that each district will have a real time view of drug stock levels at the clinics and the ability to coordinate the transfer of supplies from one facility to another if required.

“The Zambian pilot is designed to be sustainable and locally owned,” said Peter Ward, solution manager, IBM. “Our analytics technology can help save lives by ensuring access to safe and effective medicines where they are needed most.”

 

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