Inventory Control Systems in Uganda

by Dr.Mshilla Maghanga
(Currently in Gulu, Uganda)

"Inventory Control Systems, the Health Sector Strategic Plan, and Availability of Medicines in Gulu and Amuru Districts, Uganda"


Inadequate implementation of inventory control systems in the public health facilities, and hence the erratic availability of essential medicines, is a concern in Uganda. This study therefore sought to determine the level of implementation of the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) inventory control system, and its influence on the availability of essential medicines in the public health facilities in Gulu and Amuru districts in northern Uganda. The study was descriptive and cross-sectional, using qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Respondents were drawn from the district health management staff, health workers, local leaders, and patients. Data was collected using questionnaires, interviews, observation techniques, and documentary review; and analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer package.

The study established the presence of HSSP inventory control system tools such as the Health Management Information Systems (HMIS), Essential Drug List of Uganda (ELDU), and the manual on Drug Logistics and Store Management, in a majority of the health facilities. However, in-house formularies, and Medicines and Therapeutics Committees (MTCs) were lacking in most health facilities. Medicines had ever expired in a number of the facilities even though safety-stock levels, reorder levels, and inventory lead-times had been established.

The challenges experienced by the facilities included inadequate funding of medicines, lack of manpower, delayed deliveries, and stock-outs of medicines at the supplier level. The study established a directly proportional relationship between the level of implementation of the HSSP ICS and that of the availability of medicines.

It is recommended that staffing levels, funding for medicines, support supervision, stocking levels of medicines in National Medical Store (NMS), and delivery of medicines, should be urgently reviewed.

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