An Electronic Pharmaceutical Logistics System Expands Transparency, Reduces Cost

“We used to spend 10 days on inventory,” recalls Michael Desta, pharmaceutical store manager at Dechatu Health Center. “We now run an inventory check in two days.”

Dechatu Health Center, in the Dire Dawa Administration of Ethiopia, is supported by JSI’s USAID-funded Digital Health Activity (DHA), which is realizing Ethiopia’s goal to digitize its entire health sector. Dagu is one of the many digital innovations that DHA has implemented at health sites across the country. 

Photo: Michael Desta, pharmaceutical store manager at Dechatu Health Center, using the Dagu system. 

Dagu is a logistics management tool offering real-time inventory data at the facility store level. It is designed to manage daily transactions, allowing pharmacy storage to communicate with health providers and vice versa, incorporating supply data into each client’s interaction with  health care.

“Dagu provides a chain to control the entry and exit of pharmaceutical products through the store, allowing us to track the status from delivery to dispatcher” says Michael, who has managed the store at Dechatu for the last two years. “On top of simplifying reporting and inventory, the technology alerts us of product expiry and when we are close to stockout.”

These alerts enable health facilities to not only see where stockouts may occur, but also where they can be found and transferred. A product in low consumption with an overabundance in one facility can be transferred to a nearby facility that is approaching stockout of the same product. Inventory tracking and transferring has enabled more responsive stock supply and reduced wastage and cost on a national level. 

Tesfaye Birhanu, a pharmacy coordinator at Dechatu Health Center, explains “Prior to Dagu, we prepared orders manually, which was time-consuming and confusing. Dagu increased efficiency and came with a ticketing system that designates staff to handle requests. It fosters responsibility and transparency in store administration. We know who is working on each order.” 

Tesfaye continues, ““We are able to reduce customers’ waiting time in clinics and offer each client information on specific drugs in our counseling, including all reported side effects. This is helping us offer higher quality client counseling.”

Wondirad Legese, Director at Dechatu Health Center describes the effect of Dagu “It helped us reduce process time, identify near medicines close to expiry. It’s enabled us to make decisions regarding utilization and transfer of medicines to other health facilities.” He continues, “We saw medical product wastage in abundance in years prior, but this system has reduced the wastage rate to less than one percent.”

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