"In Kenya as well as in other East African countries, small clinics, pharmacies, and drug shops provide over 70% of Primary Health Care. Still, pharmacies lack an easy-to use tool that allows them to understand sales, margins, and stock-levels. This lack of basic business and logistical insights can lead to stockouts of essential medicines and limits their ability to generate information needed to access preferential discounts from suppliers. We are working with these primary health care entities to reverse this situation."
This statement by Tirus Wanyoike, Founder & CEO of Advanced Smart Solutions Limited (ASSL), describes the basic idea behind the IIDEA project implemented by SmartPharma that aims at additionally reducing unsafe medication practices and medication errors that are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems across the world.
The majority of the health units involved in the final steps of dispensing drugs to the end user in East Africa are staffed by entry level healthcare workers. These workers have limited drug dispensing technical knowledge, and they lack access to accurate and updated drug information. They also struggle with getting affordable and quality drug supplies due to the fragmented last-mile pharmaceutical supply chain and low-volume orders. This adversely affects the quality and cost of care to patients.
The SmartPharma project enhances the traceability of drugs across East Africa, allowing for trade facilitation and market access for pharmaceutical products within the EAC Partner States. By connecting pharmacies with key pharmaceutical distributors in East Africa, the project aims at promoting sharing of trade information, technological innovation and cross-border mobility of technical resources and goods within the pharmaceutical space. It also aims to develop a single integrated platform that will allow health centres to seamlessly connect with its supply chain from the EAC under a pooled procurement system.
This includes access to a regional essential medicines list through strategic partnership with East African Pharmaceutical Loci (https://drugindex.it/) and the East African Community Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (EAC-MRH) Programme. This trusted end-to-end platform for pharmaceutical products across East Africa will improve the efficiency of the Pharmaceutical Distribution Chain in East Africa and provide healthcare practitioners with accurate drug information reinforced by an Electronic Expert Support System (EESS).
"For a wide range of products in a wide range of markets, manufacturers and distributors offer volume discounts. The most obvious potential benefit of pooling for buyers is obtaining a lower price per unit through the mechanism of higher volume and cash purchasing. Phase-one of the SmartPharma project focuses on bulk ordering and maintaining of a consistent supply of key, fast-moving and essential pharmaceutical products to pharmacies in Kenya and Rwanda by leading distributors. This will ensure affordable and quality drug supplies to pharmacies and clinics in resource contained setting currently constrained by their low volume orders hence improved health outcomes in targeted communities within the East Africa Community," points out Tirus Wanyoike.
ASSL is a partner in the EAC-GIZ IIDEA project. IIDEA incubates small-scale regional integration projects which are proposed and implemented by civil society and private sector across East Africa. IIDEA provides technical and financial support to innovative projects across East Africa that highlight and contribute towards East African integration.