PEPFAR supported countries procure the required HIV/TB commodities, and upon arrival in the country the commodities are inventoried, segregated, stored, and distributed to intended beneficiaries. However, commodity management challenges are often faced by the majority of the countries.
Kenya is one of the PEPFAR supported countries that has experienced recurring challenges in commodity management resulting in service disruptions. The challenges include limited visibility of commodities throughout the distribution cycle and the absence of timely commodity status information. This often leads to overstocking, stockouts, and expiries. Despite Uganda facing similar challenges, the Real Time ARV Stock Status (RASS) System, developed by MakSPH-METS with funding from CDC Uganda, serves as a potential solution to these issues. The system, in real time, can provide an update of stock status triggering decisions for redistribution, restocking and resolving expiry of the commodities in facilities.
The CDC Kenya team undertook a learning visit to Uganda to benchmark RASS on 4th to 8th September 2023, to gain insights into Uganda’s experience and explored its potential application to address commodity management challenges back home. The visiting team were able to deep dive into the development process of the system, costs involved and the possibility of designing a similar decision-making tool for Kenya. The visit included site visits to health facilities in the Rwenzori region under Baylor-Uganda as the comprehensive partner including Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, Kyenjojo Hospital and Kataraka Health center IV. They were able to observe commodity management tools and central data repositories showcased by health workers. The METS Program of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH-METS) took the lead in hosting the team in collaboration with CDC Uganda, Baylor Uganda, and the Ministry of Health – Uganda.
Key lessons from the field trips included the need for Implementing Partners to prioritize routine support as well as the motivation of super users who play pivotal roles. Innovative tools like WhatsApp groups were also deemed importance for enhancing reporting.
The CDC Kenya benchmarking visit underscores the potential benefits of adopting a real-time patient/commodity visibility system like Uganda’s RASS. The visit also served as a foundation for future collaboration and improvements in the healthcare commodity management system in Kenya. In addition, the visit aided valuable exchange of knowledge and experiences between the Kenya and Uganda teams.
As a next step, MakSPH-METS will enhance the functionality and dynamic nature of the RASS dashboard using PowerBI dashboard which is more functional and dynamic as well as continued mentoring and provision of support to end users.