Shelves Improve Medicines Management in Uganda's Kisoro Hospital

 {Photo credit: MSH}BEFORE: Drugs in boxes placed on the floor in Kisoro HospitalPhoto credit: MSH

Shelves may seem very basic and not particularly worthy of note. In fact, shelves can transform how medicines and supplies are organized by making it easier for a hospital to keep track of how many drugs it has and prevent wasteful expiry. 

For nearly 16 years, all drugs and health supplies in Kisoro Hospital were stored on the floor, which was inefficient and a challenge for staff members who had to manage the stock. 

“Before shelves were installed, I would go home ‘half dead’ with a backache and headache as a result of bending over to lift boxes from the floor, over and over again,” said Mary Musabyimana, Stores Assistant.

 “Keeping track of medicines has never been easy, which in turn makes ordering difficult. Some drugs could expire in boxes, and tracing drugs could take all day,” said Eric Uwiduhaye, Pharmacist.

To improve pharmaceutical inventory management, the MSH-led program, Securing Ugandans' Right for Essential Medicines (Uganda SURE), with support from USAID, implemented the Supervision, Performance Assessment, and Recognition Strategy (SPARS) in Kisoro Hospital in February 2012. As part of SPARS, Medicines Management Supervisors (who work for the District Health Office) visit health facilities to mentor and supervise staff and work with them to spot and address pharmaceutical management weaknesses.

SURE conducted a national survey of public health stores infrastructure that identified a lack of shelves as a major bottleneck to properly ordering, storing, and dispensing essential quality medicines andhealth supplies. Kisoro Hospital was one of almost 2,000 facilities that the survey targeted as needing shelves.

In response, SURE, working with the Ministry of Health’s Pharmacy Division, purchased and delivered over 3,000 shelving units to 1,927 facilities across 59 districts throughout Uganda. The units are of the highest quality—made from steel with six height-adjustable shelves. The facilities that have received shelves have experienced dramatic improvements in stock storage and management. 

Kisoro Hospital received 16 units. Consequently, the staff have methodically organized the hospital’s medicines and supplies for easy access and safe-keeping.

[AFTER: Mary and Eric with shelving provided to Kisoro Hospital to improve medicines storage and management]{Photo credit: MSH}AFTER: Mary and Eric with shelving provided to Kisoro Hospital to improve medicines storage and managementPhoto credit: MSH

Mary, Eric, and other staff members at Kisoro shared their gratitude and enthusiasm by organizing a small celebration to let the Hospital Ward in charges know that the shelves will enable them to manage and distribute drugs better. 

“SURE has picked us out of a deep pit. Now we have the shelves, work is much easier, quicker and motivating,” Eric said with excitement.

Mary added, “We are grateful to SURE for delivering shelves we’ve been requesting for the last 10 years.”