The Zambian government and IBM participate in a life saving initiative!

A mother and child in Zambia. The Ministry of Health has tapped IBM to provide 2 190 clinics with easier access to 200 life saving drugs. Photo Credit - UNICEF Zambia

Being healthy is a boon! There are a lot of people in this world who are not blessed with it. In such circumstances many succumb to a helpless, unhealthy life! But in god’s world no one should be helpless.

Feeling similarly the Zambian Government and IBM joined hands to change the situation to a more positive one! To achieve this they came up with the idea to improve access to life-saving drugs. Witnessing the death of as many as 1,00,000 people every year drove them to take this life changing initiative.

On 22nd May this year they made the announcement of this humanitarian decision. They plan to release 200 drugs as a pilot project with support from the World Bank, the Department for International Development, UNICEF and London Business School, Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL). This they hope will provide an idea about the drug usage, trend identification and prevent gaps in drug supply. Using this model they also hope to look into local conditions that will help them decide on the drug distribution.

Sounding hopeful about this the CEO of MSL Dr. Bonface Fundafunda, said “With help from our partners, we have already introduced simple improvements in the medical supply chain that will save the lives of thousands of children across our country by 2015.To build on these gains, we’re working with IBM to replace our paper-based inventory system with cutting-edge technology that can pinpoint the exact locations where stocks of essential medicines are running dangerously low.” Zambia will teach the world how to make best use of technology even in this aspect of life. Mobile devices with bar-code scanners will empower the staff at health centers in three districts of Zambia to keep a check on the constant supply of essential drugs.

Encouraging this positive step to bring a drastic change in the health sector John Makumba, operations officer, Africa Health Unit at the World Bank said “Zambia is taking strong action to prevent avoidable deaths by testing and deploying new methods to get drugs to people on time. Supply chains are invisible and low profile, but when they don’t work, there are terrible consequences.”

The Zambian Government wishes to deliver the best to their citizens which is why they are taking care of everything right from composition of drug shipments to transparency of the system. Transparence here stands for ability for each district to view the drug stock levels at clinics and to co ordinate the supply if necessary. Here’s what Peter Ward, solution manager, IBM has to say about this initiate that is sure to claim a place in world history. He said “The Zambian pilot is designed to be sustainable and locally owned. Our unique analytics technology can help save lives by ensuring access to safe and effective medicines where they are needed most. IBM’s work to create smarter healthcare systems around the world is optimized around the patient, helping countries develop new patient-centric care models, and connecting health information through analytics.”

Earlier too the IBM has been part of a similar project in Tanzania which was called SMS for Life. True to its name it saved the life of people in remote areas of 135 villages and today it’s all over Tanzania. Zambia plans to allow its citizens from this 12 month drug availability project this very month without any further delay. So all praise to IBM which has established the world’s deepest portfolio of Big Data and Analytics technologies and solutions, spanning services, software, research and hardware and has its name associated with many more such contributions. If the world is looking for inspiration in the development of health facilities, it knows who to turn to!