Health Department keeping better track of medicine stock

MAY 11, 2016

The Department of Health says its mobile app, which allows it to monitor medicine stock at health facilities, is helping it to overcome the challenge of shortages.

The stock visibility system (SVS) is a mobile application that healthcare professionals use to scan medicine barcodes and enter the stock levels for ARVs, TB medication and vaccines.

“This information is in real-time and is availed at any geographic location via the web. Six provinces have the SVS, covering 1 900 or 60% of our clinics.

“We plan to have 100% of all primary health clinics reporting medicine availability into a national medicine surveillance centre within the next three months,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday.

He was briefing the media after tabling his department’s 2016/17 Budget Vote in Parliament. Minister Motsoaledi said the huge burden of disease in the country leads to drug shortages. “We have been battling this problem for some time now.”

Getting ready for NHI

Minister Motsoaledi said another programme that is being implemented to help the country get ready for the National Health Insurance (NHI) is the Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD).

The programme makes it possible for stable patients to collect their medication from a pick-up point near their home or work – saving both in time and money.

“CCMDD also reduces waiting times at clinics by reducing volumes of patients who have to come to a clinic. We currently have 400 000 patients enrolled on this programme, accessing their medicines from over 1 000 pick-up points including adherence clubs, occupational health sites, GPs and private pharmacies,” said the Minister.

The department plans to reach 800 000 patients by the end of this financial year.

Mobile app for standard treatment guidelines

The Minister said a mobile application, launched on 25 November 2015 to disseminate standard treatment guidelines, has already been downloaded 15 000 times in South Africa and 1 000 times by international users.

The application is freely available from all app stores and also works offline to assist health professionals in remote areas with poor or no connectivity. Patients and members of the public can also download and use it and can inform the department about side effects of any medication they are on, using the app from anywhere in the country.

Strengthening primary health care

Minister Motsoaledi said the department will deal with the poor administration of patients’ records and data, as well as to drastically reduce patient waiting times.

“We have started the process of installing dedicated computer hardware for the rollout of the Patient Health Information System in our clinics. In each dedicated computer, we are installing software for a patient registration system in accordance with paragraph 364 of the White Paper on NHI.

“This system will be able to trace any patient within the system, like when and which clinic have they have visited before, what medication they received and what amount of medication was dispensed.”

Out of the 700 primary health care facilities in the NHI pilot districts, 657 have already been covered. A total of 1 400 additional facilities are expected to be completed in this financial year, with the remaining facilities to be completed in 2017/18.

The system will be officially launched next month after loading one third of the uninsured population. -