Storage of Essential Medicines
Storage involves keeping medicines in good condition throughout the drug supply cycle. Every point in the distribution of the medicines must be monitored for appropriate physical conditions and the storage procedures.
Holding of inventory requires good storage capacity and conditions in order to maintain the life of the medicines. In many developing countries, the classical storage point is the CMS, which can have subsidiary stores such as regional and district stores. What has been found across 16 countries in Africa is that procurements made by many partners end up in the main storage facility of the country sometimes without provision for maintaining stock holdings. Storage costs are often neglected when procurement is done. Adequate numbers of tools and human resources with the right skill mix are needed to ensure that medicines storage conforms to the agreed standards.
Many storekeepers in these countries are unaware of the capacity of their store room. This could be a cause of concern when doing procurement as forecasted quantities should be able to fit into the store room; or phased delivery planned in case of inadequate capacity. The store room should have separate space for the following: deliver/receipt of products, main storage, expired items, inflammable products, controlled substances, products requiring cold chain, etc. Storage equipment are often inadequate and sometimes the medicines are placed directly on the floor instead of on pallets.
In some instances, the staff at the health facilities are overwhelmed with the number of different stock management tools they have to complete on a daily basis from various partners who have invested in medicines procurement. There is a need to streamline and harmonize stock management tools for each country in order to reduce the work load on the scarce human resources at the periphery.