Essential medicines and health products

Medicines Supply

Quantification and Forecasting Demand for Medicines

Consumption data is an important factor in determining quantification needs. Some procurement agents use distribution data, but this can be inaccurate as not all medicines distributed from the Central Medical Stores (CMS) to the health facilities are put into use. Other factors used are seasonal variations when disease pattern vary throughout the year. Morbidity data is often used to do forecasting when setting up a new procurement office. In a study completed in Tanzania, only 51% of respondents stated that available finances were taken into account when forecasting was done.

Many parameters have to be taken into consideration to avoid cash being tied to stock or out of stock situations. When procuring for a CMS to be distributed to health facilities, the following have to be considered:

  • Available financing
  • Stock on hand at all levels of distribution system
  • Orders that are expected to be delivered
  • Expected losses through expiry or damage
  • Medicines donations
  • Desired stock at end of each planning period (safety and working stock at all levels)

Forecast information should form the basis of a procurement plan for the country. It is important to coordinate all forecasted data to reduce over or under purchase. What is happening today in many African countries is that each disease programme makes a medicines forecast for the particular disease, while the Ministry of health or CMS prepares forecasts for other essential medicines. This has often resulted in fragmentation and weakening of the medicines procurement system.