At least 100 000 people die every year in Zambia from preventable and treatable diseases as the country’s health sector remains in shambles more than 50 years after independence.
These are lives that could be saved if drugs were easily accessible and available, experts say.
Now global technology giant IBM has teamed up with the Zambian ministry of health to improve access to 200 lifesaving drugs in this Southern African nation of 15 million people.
The project, to be piloted by IBM Analytics and Mobile Solutions, will see a new medical supply chain pilot deployed using sophisticated analytics and mobile technologies to better manage medicine inventory and delivery, IBM said.
The innovative technology will manage a scalable supply chain and control the usage, supply, availability and access to essential medicine within the Zambian health sector.
Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL) CEO Dr Bonface Fundafunda said in a statement that his organisation was working with IBM to replace the country’s paper-based inventory system with cutting-edge technology that can pinpoint the exact locations where stocks of essential medicines were running dangerously low.
Using the IBM SPSS medicine supply forecast model, which takes into account local conditions such as the local rainy season, lead time and differences in each district’s demographics, MSL will be able to determine optimised distribution of drugs across an initial 2190 health centers.
“The Zambian pilot is designed to be sustainable and locally owned. Our unique analytics technology can help save lives by ensuring access to safe and effective medicines where they are needed most,” IBM solution manager Peter Ward said.
“IBM’s work to create smarter healthcare systems around the world is optimized around the patient, helping countries develop new patient-centric care models, and connecting health information through analytics.”
The project is also supported by the World Bank, the Department for International Development, UNICEF and London Business School.
Photo: A Zambian mother and her child. Credit: UNICEF Zambia