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National Medical Stores is more accountable to public through IT

The digital revolution has been disrupting business and daily life across the globe, and the pace of adoption is accelerating in Uganda.

Executives across industries are executing digital transformations as part of their corporate strategies. The National Medical Stores (NMS) has not been left behind in this ‘digital revolution.’

By applying digital technology, NMS has significantly increased visibility into its supply chain operations and makes better and faster decisions. Digitization has allowed NMS to fully integrate her supply chains and improve operational processes, making them more adaptive, responsive and transparent.

At NMS, we are hopeful that the digital revolution will make us more transparent and accountable to the Ugandan taxpayer.

For now, all MPs, DHOs, and other interested stakeholders at the ministry of Health (MOH), district or the regional referral hospitals, among others, receive SMS messages whenever NMS delivers medicine to their respective districts or health facilities.

All this is aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability. We request those who receive these SMS messages to become our ambassadors.

We are also hoping that this will put to rest the “blame game” where NMS has been a victim of regular misrepresentation by some sections of the media and amongst the public over non-delivery or late delivery to health facilities. Yet our role as NMS is procurement, storage and distribution to the government health facilities.

NMS’s new electronic system is also enhancing efficiency and speed of the distribution. Previously, NMS was using a paper-based format (Logistics Management Information System), which was always dotted with delays.

But with the digitized system, all deliveries to NMS premises by our suppliers are entered into our warehouse data base and the process of picking and packing medicine is all digitalized, thus eliminating proliferation either at the center or in the process of delivery to the districts and health centres because all our vehicles are electronically monitored and the routes are planned.

This does not only safeguard the medicines but it also brings about efficiency because the monitoring of our trucks ensures that they are only used for the right purpose.

Our fuel is also monitored and for every kilometer travelled by our vehicle, the odometer is matched and reported electronically.

Our system has evolved from the use of traditional transportation vans to a fleet of ultra-modern trucks that include those that are refrigerated, which are used to transport vaccines and other cold chain items.

The method has a tracking system which monitors the transportation of drug consignments from the NMS headquarters in Entebbe to various destinations countrywide.

From our various digital noticeboards within NMS premises, anyone is able to view where the delivery truck has reached at a particular day and time; the ones which have arrived at their destinations, etc. thus minimizing cases of fraud or loss.

At NMS, IT is no longer a boardroom matter to the extent that our delivery team must send photographs to the central delivery platform on WhatsApp NMS Group.

All this is part of a cleverly-managed process that involves surveillance at every turn, and negates any temptation for manipulation. While that is happening, our system automatically generates messages as we delivery medicine, and it will report the person who has received the medicine, the place, time, contact number for each delivery made.

From within NMS offices, we  have built the capacity that enabled us to be in any part of Uganda irrespective of any road network within 12 hours and this literally means we can respond to any kind of emergency from near and afar and that we emphasize that NMS is passionate about your life.

On top of this, NMS has a Smart Care product which enables the public health facilities and the general public to give and receive feedback on the medicines and medical supplies received in real time.

Prior to the development of NMS Smart Care, public health facilities had to fill up paper-based forms and send them by courier to NMS whenever they had issues with supplies delivered by NMS.

In addition, NMS has a delivery schedule that it follows and every health facility that NMS supplies medicines has it.

NMS has six cycles and delivers medicines and other supplies at least once every two months to every government health facility. To implement this exercise successfully, NMS has also partitioned all the country’s districts into five zones and each zone has an order deadline and delivery end date.

On the preventive aspect, we are appealing to every Ugandan to ensure that they have responsibility to play before they demand their rights.

The writer is the public relations officer, National Medical Stores (NMS).

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