Using Supply Chain Data to Fight COVID-19 in Uganda

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, access to timely and accurate supply chain data is critical to the success of Uganda’s response to the outbreak. The first COVID-19 case in Uganda was reported on March 21, 2020. Additional cases were reported days later, triggering the government to implement drastic measures to restrict the spread of the disease. Uganda’s response has largely centered on closing its borders, limiting public gatherings, and conducting tests and treating COVID-19 patients.

To ensure that medicines and medical supplies get to points of need, the USAID Uganda Health Supply Chain (UHSC) project, led by MSH, supported the Ministry of Health in customizing the electronic Emergency Logistics Management Information System (eELMIS), so that the country could fully respond to the dictates of coronavirus.

The eELMIS—a management information system that supports supply chain coordination, information flow, commodity planning, and data visibility into the medicines and health supplies available at national and district levels during public health emergencies—was developed with support from UHSC during Uganda’s 2018 to 2019 Ebola preparedness and response.

Building on Uganda’s experiences with Ebola and other outbreaks, the Ministry of Health leveraged the eELMIS investment to make COVID-19 supply chain coordination seamless. The logistics subcommittee of the multisectoral national task force for public health emergencies, together with the Ministry of Health Pharmacy Department and UHSC, conducted quantification, forecasting, and pipeline monitoring of COVID-19 commodities for the entire country through the eELMIS.

The logistics subcommittee used the eELMIS to track the medicines and health supplies that were distributed in all 135 districts of Uganda to 78 quarantine centers, 54 points of entry into the country, 80 public hospitals, 15 regional hospitals, and 2 national hospitals. Between March 2nd and July 16th, 2020, partners at national, district, and facility levels made 254 bulk orders through the eELMIS, which were verified, processed, approved, and issued by Ministry of Health staff.

“The eELMIS has been one of the Ministry of Health’s strongest assets in providing accurate and timely information on COVID-19 logistics at both national and sub-national levels,” says Neville Okuna Oteba, Commissioner Pharmaceuticals and National Medicines, Ministry of Health.

Such efforts have been effective in increasing access to lifesaving medical supplies such as test kits, treatments for COVID-19 patients, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to limit the spread of the virus. The eELMIS has further provided routine reports on the country’s emergency stock-status, stock gap analysis, orders, receipts, and national aggregate stock that support decision making. These reports allow the Ministry of Health and partners to have real-time visibility into the data on COVID-19 supplies at treatment centers, district stores, regional pre-positioning centers, central warehouses, and partner stores.

The eELMIS has complimented other government of Uganda initiatives contributing to a rapid and data driven response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 16, 2020, and as per government reports, there were no deaths reported due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda.