Malawi is a small country located in southeast Africa. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west.
About a third of Malawi’s area is taken by the beautiful Lake Malawi, that lies in the northeastern part of the country.
Malawi has recently became the first country to deploy and use the latest version of OpenLMIS – an electronic Logistics Management Information Systems (LMIS) solution that facilitates the requisition and resupply process of health commodities.
The implementation kicked off in February 2017 – a month before OpenLMIS v3 was released. Being an active member of the OpenLMIS initiative, the SolDevelo team has been asked to support the software development, configuration and deployment efforts to help bring this vision to life.
OpenLMIS replaces an old LMIS system, which was introduced in 2005 and has since then evolved to be an outdated, difficult to use and error-prone standalone application. One of our tasks was to migrate the historical data from the legacy system to OpenLMIS so that the users can still access and view necessary information from the past years.
We have also been responsible for setting up the infrastructure and loading the initial data into the system, such as available health commodities, health facilities, system users and more. Moreover, we have worked on customization of the system to fit country needs. This included user interface tweaks, rewording some of the content and also introducing new, country-specific features. In the spirit of the shared benefit, which was the primary driver of OpenLMIS v3, we have contributed a lot of code back to the core project.
This included fixes for bugs that we have found, performance improvements and a new tool, that is capable of loading the data into the system from the CSV files. Thanks to contributing the code back, all of those fixes and additions will be available for any future implementations of OpenLMIS v3!
During the initial phase of the project, we had an amazing opportunity to visit Malawi in person. The development team stayed in Lilongwe – the capital of Malawi for two weeks. We have met the local teams working on the implementation and used that time to better understand project requirements, estimate the work and discuss technical details.
Moreover, we got to visit two pharmacies and hear about the current state and issues directly from the end-users. One of the biggest challenges is stable and fast Internet access. Many clinics operate on unreliable and slow connections. We have had a chance to experience that ourselves and verify how well OpenLMIS is able to handle that.
Despite being quite busy, we have also found some time during the weekend to go sightseeing, see the Malawi wildlife and get some souvenirs. Having traveled there in March, we have been in Malawi during the wet (summer) season, which was a nice break from the cold, Polish winter. After five months of hard work, OpenLMIS has been deployed in 28 districts and 5 central hospitals.
We are happy to see it in action and that our work turns into something that improves people’s lives.