To facilitate health staff to make appropriate inventory and timely stock requisition, an online inventory system ‘Electronic Bhutan Medical Supplies Inventory System (e-BMSIS) was launched July 19.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk said the core of healthcare services is ensuring non-interrupted adequate supply of medicines and medical equipment.

Medical supplies include requisition and procurement management, distribution management, and internal consumption process.

“It is timely to have such a system in place at this juncture where the ministry is planning to have at least 95 percent of essential medicines available at all times with almost equal percentage of medical equipment functional at all times,” Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said.

Current medical supplies management involves manual approach where the stakeholders manage the flow of information using papers, phone calls, and emails.

Stakeholders are confronted with inherent challenges of manual approach, human errors, lack of information for decision making, delay in detecting errors, some health facilities face shortages while some need to manage wastages.

Lyonpo said the current medical supply management is cumbersome and costly.

Besides curtailing the current challenges and providing incremental encouragement to those involved in ensuring adequate medical supplies in the health facilities, Lyonpo said the system will streamline processes involved in planning supplies and will capture real-time information at various stages that can be used in decision making.

For optimal management of medical supplies, managing information regarding medical supplies, and using that information for decision making to effective communication is essential, Lyonpo added.

Lyonpo said as the ministry launched the system, it must take stock of achievements the ministry has made in improving the lives of its fellow citizens. “Given the economic situation and response setting within which the achievements have been made it is laudable to note the strength and integrity of our health workforce who have ensured that each Ngultrum is invested appropriately.”

Officiating director with the ministry’s Department of Medical Supplies and Health Infrastructure (DMSHI), Tashi Penjore, said the department had tried using two software systems for managing medical supplies online.

But, Tashi Penjore, said both the systems were found to be inadequate to manage the medical supplies of the ministry and problematic in terms of operation and maintenance of the system.

The work to develop the e-BMSIS was initiated in May this year. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and the Royal Government of Bhutan funded the project worth Nu 6M.

About Nu 2.4M was spent for development of the system, Nu 1.2M for server and equipment, Nu 1.1M for procuring computers and the rest for training of users.

The Project Manager, Tashi Lhundup, said some of the BHU’s do not have access to Internet, which is essential for the success of the system besides making it compulsory for all stakeholders to use the system.

Lyonpo asked for the list of BHU’s that do not have Internet connection and asked the health secretariat to see what could be done for these BHU’s to have Internet connectivity. “Connectivity will be an issue but the ministry has to work it out.”

Lyonpo said it is the ministry’s responsibility to provide infrastructure and equipment required by the health facilities and make sure the system works.

Lyonpo also stressed the importance of training the users. “No matter how good the system is, if the user does not know how to use it or does not make use of the application then it will be of no use.”

The ministry’s chief procurement officer, Rudra Mani Dhimal, said this migration from the manual into real time digital supplies inventory system will bring a huge paradigm shift in terms of efficiency and efficacy of the top managements by using the system as a vibrant management tool for effective decision making.

“The accuracy, timely and easy accessibility of information will help make better, faster and effective decisions by the executives, managers and stakeholders as per their requirements,” Rudra Mani Dhimal said.

The system is expected to be used in all the health centres in the country by end of September.

Dechen Tshomo