Requirements for health care supply chain systems
30 September 2010
When a pregnant woman is in labor, she may be in great need of certain medications. However, it is not a given in many settings, that the right drug will be in the right place at the right time. Efforts in the area of well-performing logistics systems to tackle the potentially life-threatening problem of stock-outs have been made by PATH, the World Health Organization and the Health Metrics Network. The result is a new document issued by PATH. Common requirements for logistics management information systems (September 2010) identifies 208 specific user and system requirements that are understandable, adoptable and useful to stakeholders for the acquisition, development or enhancement of logistics management information systems and solutions. Bridging global health and software and system engineering, this publication is being used by countries to make informed decisions regarding technology to manage the availability of any health product such as vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies which are critical to delivering effective health services. The origin of this work was a 2008 meeting in Bellagio, Italy where more than 200 leaders in health care, technology, finance, policy and government called for global guidance, standards and model architecture for strengthening health information systems. These common requirements are based on the Health Metrics Network Framework and have been extensively tested in a diverse set of countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Viet Nam. HMN and WHO collaborated with PATH, Public Health Informatics Institute and Rockefeller Foundation in its production. The document serves as a road map for ministries of health to move toward effective logistics management systems and as a tool to structure projects, conduct self assessment and evaluate vendor proposals. Well-designed, robust, universal and reusable applications for managing health product supply can lead to cost and time savings. Donor resources can focus on health information system development projects that can be used across projects, countries, and programmes. And patients can benefit from timely health interventions.