14 November 2012

Rwanda: Govt Introduces Digital Drug Supply Chain

The Department of Medical Procurement and Distribution at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) has introduced a new system aimed at enhancing the country's drug supply chain and management.

Speaking during the opening of the first ever global supply chain summit in Africa that commenced yesterday in Kigali, the acting Director General of RBC, Pierre Claver Kayumba, revealed that their logistics management information system will be digital.

"The system will help us detect drugs that are about to expire and those that are needed by particular health centres and hospitals," he said.

The launch comes amid concerns over expiration of drugs in the country.

The 2011/ 2012 Auditor General's report faulted the then Centre for Medical Procurement and Distribution, (Camerwa) for letting drugs expire in their stores, costing government hundreds of millions.

Officials attributed the loss to changes in demand of particular drugs or lack of authentic information about the required quantities of drugs needed during the procurement process.

Kayumba added that universities are now training pharmacy students on supply chain management, which was formerly not part of the curriculum.

"We have introduced new modules to pharmacy students on supply chain management, which will help them in planning for drug distribution," he said.

"It is important that this summit emphasises on key drivers for achieving supply chain success in different global health initiatives and explores mechanisms to reinforce those that have proven to be success stories," Kayumba noted.

In a bid to have a healthy population, several governments around the globe have endeavoured to put in place efficient and effective supply chains of essential drugs.

This is because the supply, availability and accessibility of such drugs can enhance the quality of lives of the rural poor.

The meeting requested the International Association of Public Health Logisticians (IAPHL) to uphold sustainable healthcare systems and seek solutions to key challenges in the supply chain system.

Maeve Magner, one of the facilitators at the summit, observed that supply chains of essential drugs in most developing countries was increasingly becoming complex with tightened regulations on importation of drugs.

She pointed out that as diseases devastate the lives of the poorer segment of the population, availability and access are critical to the welfare of a healthy nation.

"If these drugs do not turn up at their destination on time, the process will come to a halt and links within the supply chain will break, causing problems for other entities down the chain," she noted.

In spite of Rwanda's commitments to improve access and availability of essential drugs, actual realisation remains low and structural bottlenecks at each stage of the supply chain have not been systematically identified and documented.

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