USAID pledges continued support to Malawi’s health sector

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged to provide continued support towards improving the delivery of services in the health sector in Malawi.

USAID Deputy Health Office Director Dr. Haldon Njikho made the pledge at the official launch of Malawi Supply Chain System Architecture for Health Commodity Tracking and Tracing.

Apparently, the agency facilitated development of the digital supply chain to provide a roadmap and allow the Ministry of Health and donors to align investments in supply chain information systems and work toward Malawi’s vision to achieve end-to-end visibility of supply chain information at all levels.

Phale–The system is a game-changer in the provision of healthcare services in Malawi–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

In his remarks at the launch of the system at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe, Njikho described the system as the best tool in bringing efficiencies in how commodities are managed throughout various levels of the healthcare system.

He said a coordinated supply chain will encourage local private sector players to partner with the government and donors in the delivery of innovative supply solutions.

“For this integrated supply chain system to work, it requires a robust digital supply chain platform, which can act as a control tower and provide enhanced data visibility across all the supply chain stakeholders,” he said.

Njikho further disclosed that the agency is also investing in supply chain system strengthening to support healthcare workers in health facilities to manage the commodities.

Phale (4th from right) poses for a photo with USAID and governemnt officials after launching the system–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

He said USAID has already supported the development of a new Pharmacy Assistant curriculum at local colleges and provided direct scholarships to train over 350 students who have since graduated and are employed by the Malawi Government to manage health commodities at health facilities across the country.

“USAID also cooperated with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Global Fund to install nearly 500 prefabricated pharmacy storage units to address significant health commodity storage space constraints at health facilities across the country.

“USAID continues to support the Government of Malawi to transition away from a paper-based system of tracking health commodities at the last mile through deployment of a national electronic logistics management information system called OpenLMIS, which has enhanced monitoring and accountability for health commodities for most disease, and Covid-19 vaccines,” said Njikho.

Deputy Minister of Health, Enock Phale, said the digitisation of the supply chain systems is in line with the aspirations of President Dr Lazarus McCarty Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance-led government.

Phale said the mission of the Chakwera government is to establish a national supply system of management information systems that allows visibility of health commodities from central level warehouses to patients through digitization.

“Digitisation is the only route for Malawi to implement E2E tracking and tracing. The key reasons why the Government is implementing End-to-End Commodity Tracking and Tracing include the demand for health care services, which is increasing every year and the government has to make available adequate health commodities including medicines from the limited financial resources it can provide amongst many competing social needs.

“The other reason is the availability of health products to reduce shortages in the health facilities when thefts and pilferages are stemmed off,” he said.

The Deputy Minister added that the system aims to provide real time visibility of the flow of products in the supply chain from source such as Central Medical Stores Trust to the health facility, which he said is essential for good and timely decisions.

Phale further stated that the system will induce improvements in data management; accountability by managers at various levels; security of products; transparency in transactions; quality of products by cutting out counterfeits; quantification of needs based on real consumption data; and availability of products in health facilities to reduce stocks outs and expiries.

“It is a fact that the insecurity of health products at various levels of the supply chain needs to be arrested for Malawi to attain Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal # 3 and various other goals under Agenda 2063 and the HSSP III to come. Above all, Malawi is also pursuing universal health coverage (UHC) that is only achievable with patient access to adequate supply of quality health commodities in timely manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister thanked development partners, which include USAID, UNDP, WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA, PATH, Global Fund, GAVI, PIH, and GIZ for supporting supply chain initiatives related to the entire spectrum of health products.

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