BLN Dives into Logistics Management Information Systems
By Dawn Seymour, Senior Technical Advisor, BID Initiative
Jun 11, 2015
The second BID Initiative Learning Network (BLN) Design Collaborative meeting occurred in Dakar, Senegal, during 26-28 May 2015. Sixteen participants with representation of 15 sub-Saharan African countries attended the meeting and discussed the design, development, and implementation of Logistics Management Information Systems (LMIS) within the African context.
Participants engaged in discussions and activities that covered the full spectrum of LMIS from the very first step of what an LMIS is and why an LMIS is needed for the specific country use case. We also covered the documentation process of requirements for the way an LMIS must operate, strategies of how to select the right vendor in a request for proposal (RFP) process when considering LMIS software, and how to incorporate change management into LMIS software implementation as a way to facilitate user adoption.
There were a number of interesting and interactive sessions held at the meeting sparking insightful discussions. Here are a few key takeaways:
Shared Challenges: Connected and non-connected facilities. Shared challenges emerged on the very first day and many participants voiced agreement and relief that they were not alone in facing these challenges. Participants from Senegal, the Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia and Ethiopia discussed challenges with data flow and accessibility across all levels of the health system, particularly with some sites connected to electricity and internet while others are not.
Liz Peloso, BID Global Director, shared an example of how the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) in Tanzania, in partnership with the BID Initiative, developed an immunization registry that allows staff to enter both paper-based and electronic-based data into the registry. District officers can also extract data to generate illustrative reports for facilities to view their data and use it for decision making. Participants were eager to learn more about this particular intervention.
We challenged participants to think creatively in how to integrate the manual LMIS process at rural and non-connected facilities with the electronic LMIS software process at urban and connected facilities to accomplish data flow between all levels of the health system.
Demonstrations of LMIS Software: Participants viewed short demos of LMIS software in use across Africa and how the same steps of the LMIS were operationalized in different ways. Participants from the Gambia and Senegal noted how software could help address challenges with data completion while in Nigeria, participants explained how the timeliness of data would allow for more evidence-based decisions. For our Liberia representative, the software could be a great tool as long as systems can communicate with each other, and from Ethiopia, building from the lessons learned from others is a better place to start than to begin from scratch.
Common Requirements for LMIS Software: Participants worked together and practiced the documentation process of common requirements for how their LMIS currently operates. At the end of the session, each participant owned documentation of shared requirements for the first step of LMIS that will be used as a starting point for their respective countries to finish the process and fine tune to the country’s specific operations. Participants felt empowered by the process to continue moving forward on formal documentation of their LMIS.
Evaluating Responses to an RFP: When presented with different vendors, ministries must consider the tradeoffs between vendors based on years of experience, having support within country, cost, and area of expertise. Participants were presented with three different mock vendors in response to a mock RFP. The process resulted in participants feeling more confident about how to balance the tradeoffs between different vendors in order to choose the option that would yield the most valuable results in both the short and long-term.
Participants visited the National Procurement Pharmacy in Dakar to learn about the current manual LMIS process between all levels – national, regional, district, and facility – and the intersection of the manual process with electronic LMIS software as a way to collect, analyze, report, and act upon the data recorded in the LMIS software.
Stay tuned for photos and highlights from the field visit in an upcoming post. Thank you to all of the participants and BID Initiative team members who helped facilitate a successful meeting and we look forward to continuing discussions in our Google Group!