OpenLMIS 3.0: Providing Health Supplies for Those in Need

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Access to professional healthcare is a fundamental right that every human being should have. Unfortunately, health systems still continue to experience stock-outs of essential medicines. Due to this problem, inhabitants of the low-resource settings are often left vulnerable to treatable illnesses. It is especially true for Africa, where healthcare systems are constantly struggling with a variety of challenges. 

Auspiciously, it is where modern digital technology can come to the rescue. By employing cutting-edge technologies and industry best practices, it is possible to make global health supply chains more efficient. As a result, it can reach more people. 

Can you imagine managing medicine stock shortages in remote health facilities with just one click of a button? 

With OpenLMIS 3.0 it is possible! 

OpenLMIS

openlmis

OpenLMIS is an open-source web-enabled electronic logistics management information system that serves over 11,000 health facilities across Africa. Its main role is reducing stock inefficiencies and improving health outcomes in an affordable way. It does so by transforming and optimizing global and national health supply chains. It has easily outclassed old LMIS systems that ended up being outdated and inadequate for routine supply chain data collection needs. 

OpenLMIS beginnings in Malawi

That was exactly the case in Malawi. Previously used Supply Chain Manager (SCMgr), a stand-alone Microsoft Access-based application, turned out to be not efficient enough. The Malawi Ministry of Health started looking for new solutions. In August 2017, it collaborated with Chemonics International (GHSC – PSM Project) and VillageReach to implement OpenLMIS version 3.0 countrywide. It’s an honor for SolDevelo to also take part in the project!

Our SolDevelo team, together with VillageReach, worked on a complete remake of the core software for the OpenLMIS 3.0 version. We have naturally been involved in OpenLMIS deployment and maintenance in Malawi. 

One of our tasks was to migrate the historical data from the legacy system to OpenLMIS so that the users could still access and view necessary information from the past years. We have also been responsible for setting up the infrastructure and loading the initial data, such as available health commodities, health facilities, system users, and more, into the system.

Nowadays OpenLMIS 3.0 is being used at 43 data entry sites in 28 Malawian districts to capture data for 690 health facilities, including five central hospitals. Thanks to the significant amount of data reported in OpenLMIS, it is much easier to make reasonable decisions on key supply chain interventions, such as quantification, supply planning, and monitoring of medicines uptake – especially in case of tuberculosis (TB), reproductive health, HIV, and malaria.

Learn more on OpenLMIS 3.0 and its successful implementation in Malawi.

How OpenLMIS 3.0 transforms Malawi’s health supply chain 

GHSC-PSM is one of eight projects in the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program that connect technical solutions, experts, and proven commercial processes to promote efficient and cost-effective health supply chains worldwide. All of them helps achieving stronger and more effective health supply chains by ensuring an uninterrupted stream of quality health products and services to millions of people in need.

Thanks to the USAID GHSC-PSM, OpenLMIS 3.0 is significantly improving operations and outcomes for the Ministry of Health in Malawi. With such an effective tool at their disposal, health facilities in this country are collecting reliable data that ensure lifesaving medicines and supplies reach their final destination.

In Malawi, OpenLMIS 3.0 manages reporting of data to health technical support services. It also takes care of the ordering of essential medicines and medical supplies from Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST). It makes it possible for Malawian health professionals to control medical stocks, reduce theft of medicines and medical supplies, and improve overall health services.

What problems OpenLMIS 3.0 solves

Real-time data

First of all, OpenLMIS 3.0 provides instant live access to data. The system helps in creating feedback with health facilities in the form of reports. On the basis of these reports, it is possible to see the locations of drugs overstock and understock. 

Offline functionality

Secondly, OpenLMIS also offers offline functionality that enables data entry even when there is no internet connection. It’s especially useful in remote areas where the internet connection is often weak and unstable.

Time and money saving

Moreover, it has facilitated efficiency along the supply chain by reducing the need to travel long distances to submit orders. Thanks to the latter, it helps in saving in terms of cost of transport, too. 

Quality of data

OpenLMIS also ensures the quality of data by instantly alerting users when the numbers entered into the system are arithmetically incorrect. In other words, it is able to carry over the closing balance of the previous month to the current month. This way, it is able to tell if the figures are correlating or not.

Reporting and ordering

Furthermore, OpenLMIS 3.0 is a dual system that has both reporting and ordering capabilities. It makes the ordering process easier. There is one platform one can use to report and, based on the reports, order for the upcoming month. Prior to the introduction of OpenLMIS, Malawi’s Ministry of Health used three systems for health logistics operations: SCMgr for reporting; MicrosoftExcel for data aggregation, analysis, and report generation; and the CMST online tool for ordering commodities. Thanks to the introduction of OpenLMIS, users can now report, place orders, and view LMIS reports in one application.

Lesson learned

Health facilities and service providers in low-resource settings need a reliable way to order medical supplies, track their inventory, and report all the necessary health commodities. OpenLMIS 3.0, a state-of-the-art management information system, proves a perfect tool to do just that. As it integrates supply chains in various health areas into one efficient supply chain, it helps in ensuring that health commodities are delivered on time to many of Malawi’s most vulnerable and difficult-to-reach communities. 

SolDevelo is always happy and proud to work on solutions that have a significant global impact. Supporting OpenLMIS 3.0, we can be sure that our effort is really changing people’s lives for the better –  and all of it thanks to an extraordinary collaboration of organizations and individuals from around the world.

Our journey with OpenLMIS 3.0 made us realize once more how crucial an efficient healthcare system is for the wellbeing of each and everyone of us. This project reminded us of our mission to bring help to those in need, using as much of our knowledge and skills as possible.

It just feels good to have an impact!

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