The Quantification and Procurement Planning Unit (QPPU): Improving resource mobilization and utilization through monitoring commodities and sharing information
Until 2012, Uganda’s public health supply chain was uncoordinated because the information needed to estimate quantities of essential medicines and health supplies was not readily available. A national centralized platform to track routine monitoring of stock levels, share information to support data-driven decisions, and provide accountability of funds and commodities did not exist. Without knowledge of stock levels, funding could not be properly allocated to procure needed commodities. This affected the availability of essential medicines and health supplies, resulting in stock-outs and expiries at the facility level.
To address these issues, the USAID-funded Securing Ugandans’ Right to Essential Medicines (SURE) program, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), supported the Ministry of Health (MOH) Pharmacy Department by establishing the Quantification and Procurement Planning Unit (QPPU) in 2012. The QPPU was established as a central hub to coordinate quantification, procurement, and supply planning of national essential medicines and health supplies. Quantification involves estimating the quantities and costs of the health commodities required to meet the health demand of the population and determining when commodities should be delivered.
While the QPPU was created by the SURE program, in 2014, the USAID-funded Uganda Health Supply Chain (UHSC) program continued to build capacity and strengthen the QPPU’s role within the MOH as a coordinating platform for all key stakeholders. The QPPU started with quantification and monitoring of program commodities such as antiretroviral (ARV), TB, and malaria medicines but expanded it to include reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health lifesaving commodities and other essential medicines and health supplies. The Pharmacy Department and many other stakeholders use the quantifications prepared by the QPPU as a guide to advocate for the allocation of funds and procurement of health commodities.
Over the years, the QPPU has helped the MOH and partners identify funding needs and gaps, increase donor and government commitments, and improve accountability of resources. In 2020, the Government of Uganda increased its commitment to HIV commodity funding to 140.3bn UGX, up from 94bn UGX in 2016, based on quantification insights gained from the QPPU. The unit has also helped develop proposals to receive grants from the Global Fund to procure more HIV, malaria, TB, and laboratory commodities. Between 2015 and 2017 and again between 2018 and 2020, the unit helped Uganda secure grants of more than USD 292m and USD 345m, respectively.
Mrs. Okuna Neville Oteba, Commissioner Health Services, Pharmaceuticals and Natural Medicines in the Ministry of Health, said, “the QPPU is the heartbeat of our National Pharmaceutical Supply Chain management system. It is a one stop data center connecting and supporting supply chain players, development partners, procurement agencies, Ministry of Health teams, districts, health facilities, warehouses and implementing partners.”
Central to the QPPU is the Pharmaceutical Information Portal—an electronic management information repository system that provides insight into the performance of the public-sector medicines supply chain. This portal aggregates data from facility stock status reports, facility performance assessments, and supportive supervisions conducted by medicine management supervisors. The increased availability of data in the Pharmaceutical Information Portal and its complementary logistics management information systems has enabled the MOH and partners to quickly identify and address bottlenecks in the supply chain, ensuring that lifesaving medicines are available to all Ugandans when and where they are needed.
The QPPU improved collaborative and coordinated planning with supply chain stakeholders by setting up and leading monthly Commodity Security Group meetings to support coordinated decision making on procurement, supply planning, and forecasting. The bimonthly stock status reports shared by the QPPU provided evidence for rapid decisions to correct critical stock-related problems. Such decisions included the redistribution of medicines to facilities that needed them. For example, using data from the April–May 2019 report, the USAID Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services in North, Acholi Activity (RHITES-E) activity team supported the redistribution of malaria commodities (artemisinin-based combined therapy and rapid diagnostic tests) from facilities in Bukwo district to Namisindwa and Kumi districts, averting stock-outs in 21 facilities and reducing wasteful overstock in 18 facilities in Bukwo.
The QPPU remains the backbone of the public health supply chain system, and with USAID support, the MOH’s Pharmacy Department continues to collaborate with partners on efforts aimed at ensuring an uninterrupted supply of medicines to all Ugandans.
 This includes the web-based ARV ordering and reporting system, the web-based TB medicines ordering system, and the online stock status reporting system for central-level stock status