ISLAMABAD: An automated system has been introduced in Pakistan to ensure availability of mother and child related medicines, especially for diarrhea and pneumonia, that cause around 160,000 deaths every year.

The “Health Logistics Management Information System (HLMIS)” will check real-time stocks of medicines at 34,000 health facilities.

The system has been launched with the technical and financial support of Unicef and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under Global Action for Pneumonia and Diarrhea.

Dr Mohammad Tariq, the country head of international development consulting firm Chemonics, told Dawn that every year 100,000 children died of diarrhea and 60,000 of pneumonia in Pakistan.

“Unavailability of medicines is a major reason behind deaths of children. So international organisations have sponsored the automated system to ensure 19 medicines, including medicines which are required for mother at the time of delivery,” he said.

Health Logistics Management Information System will check real-time stocks of medicines at 34,000 health facilities

“It is not unusual that medicines are consumed at Basic Health Units (BHUs) and additional supplies could not be sent there on time. The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) is very much serious to ensure availability of medicines and reduce mother and child mortalities,” he said.

“Because of the system, which has been introduced in Punjab and Sindh, it will become possible to check the stocks at all health facilities and additional stocks would be provided in case of an early consumption.”

Dr Tariq said in the past a similar incident occurred in the vaccine department of National Institute of Health (NIH) as vaccines were found expired.

Later, a specialised Vaccine Logistics Management Information System (VLMIS) software, which can track vaccine supply up to the union council level across Pakistan, was installed.

“HLMIS also works on the same pattern and will make it possible that no child and mother died due to unavailability of medicines. Because of the system it will become possible to know the exact time for procurement of medicines,” he said.

According to a statement issued by the ministry of NHS on Saturday, after inaugurating the system Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said automation/digitisation of public health supply chain system was critical for an improved access of essential health commodities.

Representatives of the governments of Punjab and Sindh said end-to-end availability of maternal, newborn and child health essential medicines through HLMIS would empower the policy and programme tiers to take evidence-based decisions.

Applauding the collaboration of the Sindh and Punjab governments, Unicef representative Aida Girma said: “It is a great achievement that HLMIS has brought data visibility of very essential MNCH medicines at provincial and district stores and health facilities in Punjab and Sindh. Unicef envisages that other provinces and regions shall follow suit.”

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020

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