Coaching and Logistics Mentorship Improve Pharmaceutical Services in Tanzania

 {Photo: Michael Bajile/MSH-Tanzania}Vincent Nanai conducts routine inventory in the Bariadi District pharmacy store.Photo: Michael Bajile/MSH-Tanzania

As a pharmacist with the Bariadi Council Health Management Team in Tanzania’s Lake Zone, Vincent Nanai is responsible for ensuring that all 23 public health facilities supported by the council are stocked with essential commodities. However, prior to Nanai’s training from the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Tibu Homa project, many public health facilities within the Lake Zone frequently ran out of medicines and supplies.

This posed a threat to children under the age of five, especially because proper diagnosis and access to medicine is critical when a child develops a high fever. The lack of medicines at public facilities forced caregivers to seek assistance at private medical shops, which are more costly.

The Tibu Homa project, which means “treat fever” in Swahili, is implemented by University Research Co., LLC; Management Sciences for Health; and the African Medical and Research Foundation. The project’s goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality among children under five in Tanzania’s Lake Zone by increasing proper diagnosis and management of severe febrile illness.  

Tibu Homa examined the problems at the facilities in Bariadi District and discovered that staff were not documenting the use of medicines and therefore could not rely on data regarding past use to forecast their needs.

In 2014, Nanai and other health managers received training from Tibu Homa on reporting and management of stock. Nanai now faithfully coaches and mentors the health facilities to support reporting and address other logistics gaps contributing to stock-outs. For instance, facilities often ran out of stock report cards before the national Ministry of Health was able to resupply them. Nanai arranged for 2,000 cards to be printed locally and distributed to all facilities supported by the district council. Said Nanai:

Initially there was no use of stock cards. That led to poor inventory management and commodities were at high risk of pilferage. The use of stock cards helped a great deal to reduce stock-outs due to theft and pilferage.

By September 2014, the availability of medicines and supplies in Bariadi improved markedly. Ninety percent of the 23 facilities reported having stocks of more than 10 essential commodities necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of febrile illness, compared to only 44 percent six months previously.