IBM solutions used to improve access to life saving drugs in Zambia

Leading technology solutions provider IBM has teamed up with the Zambian Government in a new initiative aimed at saving lives through using analytics and mobile solutions to ensure medicine availability.

IBM today 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.

Dr Bonface Fundafunda, CEO at MSL, said: “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.

“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.”

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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 centers.

“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 utilization 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.

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

“IBM’s work to create smarter healthcare systems around the world is optimized around the patient, helping countries develop new patient-centric care models, and connecting health information through analytics.”

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