In Zambia, Three Key Factors Improve Supply Chain Data Reporting in Serenje District Health Facilities

Related Supply Chain Topics
August 23, 2021
Lead Paragraph/Summary

For public health supply chains, data visibility is essential to maintaining a reliable supply of medicines and other health commodities.

Zambia’s Serenje District has 28 facilities that report data through country’s electronic logistics management information system (LMIS). Of those, 15 submit electronically and 13 use paper reporting forms and submit using WhatsApp. The DHOs are then responsible for entering the paper-based data into the electronic LMIS.

In Zambia, part of the job of a district health officer (DHOs) is to encourage health facilities to submit data accurately to support decisions about resupply. With an average monthly reporting rate of only 32 percent in 2018, the Serenje District needed significant improvement for reporting. Since then, its two DHOs have employed several strategies to improve the situation.


1. Positive reinforcement: Communication and motivation from district health officers

All staff responsible for reporting participated in a WhatsApp group. The DHOs send reminders to first conduct physical stock counts, update stock control cards and prepare logistics reports for submission by the 5th of the month. On the 5th, the DHOs send reminders via WhatsApp to facilities that have missed the deadline and follow up via text/SMS. For facilities note submitting by the 7th, the DHOs place calls to an individual staff member to determine how to resolve the issue. Before and during the reporting period facilities staff, the DHOs send frequent reminders to seek assistance to overcome any challenges that arise.

The DHOs also WhatsApp to acknowledge facilities that submit reports on the 1st of month, consistently submit reports on time, and have improved in their submission of reports. Doing so greatly motivates staff to continue doing their best and encourages the others strive to report on time the following month. Poorly performing facilities also contact highly performing ones to learn from them and to discuss ways to improve.

Serenje District Story Photo 1

2. Performance management: Support from leadership

Support from the District Health Director and other members of management ensures that facility staff are aware that they are being monitored by the District Health Management Team (DHMT). The DHMT also supports timely submission of reports by making available transport for the collection of reports from hard-to-reach facilities. Data bundles (internet access) procured by management for the pharmacy department are shared with facility staff when needed to send reports via WhatsApp or using the electronic LMIS.

The provincial reporting rates updates are posted on the DHMT WhatsApp group to show the facility staff that their efforts have impact at provincial and ultimately national level.

3. Partner support

Several partners play essential roles in helping strengthen supply chain management.

  • GHSC-PSM supports the district to find creative ways to improve logistics management. The project monitors reporting rates, provides supportive supervision to facilities with performance challenges, supports the districts and provinces to train health workers in supply chain management trainings and to strengthen supply chain systems overall.
  • Roving pharmacists employed by USAID SAFE: Supporting an AIDS-Free Era Program help with updating stock control cards in their supported facilities. The pharmacists also help with DHO physical counts and inputting facility reports into the LMIS.
  • The USAID eSCMIS Project manages a WhatsApp group and call centre that also help resolve issue of reporting and LMIS use at all levels in the district. Other partners have been engaged to support facilities with monthly transportation of paper-based reports to the DHO.

The results of collaboration can be seen in the data showing a significant increase in reporting in the past two years.

Serenje District Story Chart

Availability of tracer products like ARVs and some essential medicines has improved over time as well.

Because of its good reporting performance, the district was invited to showcase its innovations and best practices during the virtual Regional Supply Chain Review meeting held in April 2021, with provincial and district health teams and other stakeholders and partners attending. One of the key action points adopted at the meeting was ensuring timely reporting by all districts by adopting the cost-effective best practices from Serenje District. To ensure sustainability, district supervisors will continue to build capacity in other staff to help with maintaining performance in reporting.

Serenje District Story Photo 2