Computer System in Tanzanian Hospitals Warns When Medicine Runs Out Or Expires


‘ Beep!’ In the pharmacy department of many IICD-supported Tanzanian hospitals in the Mwanza region, this sound has become very familiar. Pharmacists are warned by a computer system that some medication in stock is about to expire or that new supplies of a certain medicine have to be ordered.

Thanks to the digital approach, the risk of actually handing out expired medication is greatly reduced. For medicine such as nitroglycerin, insulin and some liquid antibiotics, it is vital that they do not expire. For other medicines the problem is not as acute, but their effectiveness will still weaken after a while.

In addition to the expiration tracking, the computer system also keeps track of what medicine goes in or out. Because of this, pharmacists always have an accurate number of medicines left and can be warned long in advance if new supplies need to be ordered. For doctors it is also useful because they are now also constantly aware of how much medicine is still left and can indicate if necessary if they need more.

The expiration and stock warning system is part of a Hospital Management Information System called AfyaPro, that enables health workers to digitalise their administration. Examples of administration that are digitalised are patient files and financial data. By entering this information in a computerised system rather than writing it on paper, the risk of losing files is much smaller. It is also practical because it takes less time to send files to other hospitals or governmental institutions.