For Ella Gnanvi, the first two years of working as a medical warehouse manager could be summed up in one word: tedious. In her role as manager of medicines and medical supplies at the depot, Ella would receive orders from health centers situated in Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, and work for a week to process them and fill out the stock cards. After consulting handwritten logs, checking inventory and expiration dates, and filling out endless amounts of paperwork, Ella would finally be able to send the medicines on to pharmacies for waiting clients.
Sometimes, medicines would expire before reaching customers due to these cumbersome procedures and related delays. Mistakes in stock cards and a general lack of supply visibility also resulted in periodic stock-outs, leaving customers wondering when their medicines would ever be available.
To strengthen supply chain logistics for improved management of health commodities, USAID partnered with Benin’s Ministry of Health to develop and implement an electronic logistics management information system (eLMIS). This system, which was rolled out in four pilot health zones starting in September 2021, facilitates stock management and preparation of orders, collects and displays comprehensive data on product availability, expiration dates, and costs. Through eLMIS, health personnel - from health center staff to health administration officials - can look up the availability of a specific medicine in their zone or zoom out to see national supply and demand flows.
Ella started using the new system in September 2021 when her depot was selected as a pilot site. Although learning the system took some time, she quickly noticed a big change in her work. “It used to take me a week to do all these tasks for only one order. Now, it takes about 30 minutes.” With so much time freed up, Ella is now able to accomplish more at work. “This isn’t the only thing I have to do. Now that I don’t have to spend so much time on these tasks, I have time to do the other parts of my job as well.”
At the Aidjedo Health Center in downtown Cotonou, financial assistant Ingrid Xaviere has also noticed a big difference after her office started using the eLMIS. “Now we know when certain medicines are getting close to expiration, because the system will notify us. This helps to prevent stock-out and ensures availability to clients.”
The introduction of an electronic logistics management system is part of a broader initiative led by the Government of Benin to collect, integrate, and utilize accurate data for improved management of health commodities and better quality health services for its citizens. Seventy-five percent of the pilot health facilities where the eLMIS was implemented have been a huge success. Thanks to the results of the new system strengthening supply chain management in the pilot zones, USAID collaborates with the Ministry of Health and other donors to scale up eLMIS nationally to all public health facilities and Health zones warehouses, starting in 2022.
Through USAID, the American people committed $40.9 million in assistance to Benin in 2021 to advance progress in malaria, maternal, newborn, and child health, family planning and
reproductive health, neglected tropical diseases, water, sanitation, and hygiene, governance, human rights, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19.