A new electronic health tool in over 50 public health facilities in Namibia has expedited the dispensing of medication to patients.
By Wezi Tjaronda, Evans Sagwa, Harriet Kagoya, Greatjoy Mazibuko, Bayobuya Phulu, & Samson Mwinga
A new electronic health tool developed by the USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program, implemented byMSH, is being used in more than 50 public health facilities in Namibia. This tool — the Facility Electronic Stock Card (FESC) — has noticeably expedited the dispensing of medication to patients. This was evident when the US Ambassador to Namibia H.E. Thomas F. Daughton visited the Intermediate Hospital Oshakati (IHO), which is in the populous Oshana region in the North-Central part of Namibia.
The FESC, which was installed at the hospital in September 2016, has dramatically improved pharmacy services by reducing patient waiting times to an average of approximately 30 minutes. The FESC simplifies pharmaceutical inventory control tasks and enables pharmacy staff to devote more time to patient care.
Recalling the days before the FESC, Olavi Shomongula, who regularly refills his chronic medication from the IHO pharmacy, said, “Around 9:00 a.m. you would come from seeing the doctor and wait until 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. if you were lucky.”
Veronica Shoopati typically left her home at 5:00 a.m. to pick up her mother’s medication.
“You would put your [prescription] card in the box and wait for more than three hours to go to the pharmacy. Then, you would sit and stand for more than seven hours, waiting for your name to be called. Since last year, services have improved. You put your card in the box and immediately, your name is called,” Shoopati explained.
The IHO pharmacy staff attribute this improvement to the FESC, which speeds up the ordering, issuing, and receiving of pharmaceuticals and tracks stock status. Previously, it was a mammoth manual task to manage inventory and serve the hospital’s daily roster of some 3,000 patients.
According to Senior Pharmacist Mesele Walellign, “With the implementation of FESC, everything is done electronically and medicines are managed with no problems. This is why services have improved compared to other facilities. Ninety percent of our patients are satisfied.”
Pharmaceutical managers in Namibia use the FESC to compile and forecast essential logistics information and track the availability and use of antiretrovirals and other commodities at health facilities.
During his visit to the IHO pharmacy in July 2017, Ambassador Daughton remarked:
“Today…is also a chance for us to see how the US Government’s support for pharmaceutical management in Namibia is improving the delivery of services to patients in cities, towns, and villages.”
Oshana Regional Governor Hon. Clemens Kashuupulwa thanked both USAID and MSH for their continued support in improving the quality of life for Namibians.