Since beginning my technology associate internship at VillageReach, I’ve learned that strengthening health systems in developing countries requires reliable health information and improved decision-making capacity at all levels. Without real information on who needs what and where things are going it’s impossible to keep health centers supplied with the commodities they need to treat their patients.
Over the past six months, I have been working within the information systems group at VillageReach on a project that seeks to address these very issues. Together with various partners and collaborators, we have developed an electronic logistics management information system (LMIS) that helps countries keep track of and manage everything from tongue depressors to polio vaccines. This platform, called OpenLMIS, is free, open source, and designed especially with the needs of low-resource environments in mind. Essentially, it’s a web-supported system with a complex back end but simple user interface that can be customized to the tracking needs for medical commodities needs of any country. Most interestingly, (in my opinion) it has an offline mode where users can still record stock data even when they have no Internet connection.
In the summer of 2014, VillageReach deployed OpenLMIS to manage the vaccine supply chain in four provinces of Mozambique. After a year of hard organizational work, two implementation trips from my Seattle colleagues to Maputo, on-the-ground support work from my Mozambique colleagues, and a lot of system testing and documentation from my own desk, the system is now in place and serving more than 400 health facilities and a population of 10 million. But from a connectivity and network perspective, what does it take to implement OpenLMIS in a country like Mozambique? Visit the OpenLMIS blog to see the post I wrote that answers this very question, and learn more about the work VillageReach is doing with the OpenLMIS initiative.