From Onhuno Village with Love
Supply Chain Hero Helps Save Namibian Lives
For Namibians living with chronic illnesses, like HIV, making sure that the correct medicines are available at the correct health facilities is critical to successful treatment and care. Dedicated warehousing, transportation and information technology (IT) professionals make it possible for patients to receive their medication when they need them.
Thirty-four-year-old Leena Shailemo is one of these individuals working with USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain Program (GHSC-PSM) which assists countries like Namibia to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in medical supply chains. Leena, who has worked as an IT professional for the USAID program in Namibia since 2018, uses the planning software SYSPRO to manage the country’s medical supply chain inventory.
In her role as a computer specialist, Leena helps the Central Medical Store (CMS) in Windhoek and at the two Regional Medical Stores in the northern towns of Oshakati and Rundu to plan for what medications they need and how many. In addition, Leena provides support to technical staff, warehouse crews, and other stakeholders when issues with the supply chain arise.
Leena, who was born in Onhuno Village on the outskirts of the Namibian border town Oshikango in the Ohangwena region, has come a long way. She grew up in a rural area and remembers very well how she had to cross rivers during floods to reach her school. “We used to put our school uniforms in a plastic bag and waded through the water to the other side where we put on our clothes,” she recalls.
Leena would cross many rivers to achieve her dreams and excel at her profession. She admits that she was a ‘school hopper’ which helped her to build stamina and the ability to adapt to new circumstances. Leena feels right at home in a world of unexpected challenges that come with supporting Namibia’s medical supply chain.
“IT is the glue that holds everything together because the Central Medical Store is highly computerized. Leena is integral to the performance and operations of the CMS,” says Seija Nakamhela, Chief Pharmacist at the facility.
Leena’s curiosity for discovering what makes a computer tick started when she was young and visited the local school library which had a computer. The IT officer at the library noticed her enthusiasm and opened the computer to show her its inner workings. This planted the seed in Leena to later study Information Technology at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).
“I have known Leena since 2018 and she is a SYSPRO specialist who helps us manage our inventory,” says Alex Shibabaw, Pharmacist at Central Medical Store.
Over the years, Leena rose to various challenges and earned her title as a supply chain logistics hero. In a country where the IT sector is still dominated by men, Leena has managed to break the glass ceiling and chart her own path.
“It’s not only my colleagues here at the office and medical stores that need my support,” she explains. Even when work becomes too much, Leena has a good reason to keep on going. “I love what I am doing with all my heart and soul. As much as I am behind this computer, I know that what I am actually doing is saving people’s lives.”