commodities management

The success of the Namibian government's “treatment for all” approach to control and stop the country's HIV epidemic is dependent on an uninterrupted supply of antiretrovirals (ARVs) for people living with HIV. The public health system in Namibia, however, was constrained by an inefficient paper-based pharmaceutical information system resulting in unreliable and inaccessible data, contributing to persistent stock-outs of ARVs and other essential pharmaceuticals. This article describes the incremental implementation of an integrated pharmaceutical management information system to provide timely and reliable commodity and patient data for decision making in Namibia's national antiretroviral therapy (ART) program and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS). Namibia's pharmaceutical management information system demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of integrating related tools while maintaining their specialized functionality to address country-specific information and inventory management needs.

Moving the global response towards the universal test and treat model will pose huge challenges to public health systems in resource-limited settings, including global and local supply chain systems. These challenges are especially acute in Africa, which accounts for over 70% of the persons affected by HIV.To ensure that there are enough anti-retrovirals available to treat the nearly 25 million people that will require them by 2020 represents a near doubling of the ARV supplied to treat the 13 million currently on treatment. Similarly, to monitor those on treatment means an unprecedented scale-up of viral load testing throughout Africa. Larger issues include whether the capacity exists at the local level to handle these commodities when they arrive in the most severely affected countries, including considerations of the human resources and costs needed to make this strategy effective. We believe that such ‘‘real world’’ analysis of proposed strategies and policies is essential to ensure their most effective implementation.

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