Over the last few months, the team at Ushahidi has been pleasantly surprised by all the innovative uses of Ushahidi that are popping up globally. Stop Stockouts is one of them.

Stock-Out Press Conference

Stop Stock-Outs is a campaign to ensure access to essential medicines by using Ushahidi and Frontline SMS to map the availability of essential medicines at public health facilities in several African countries. These are medicines used to treat common diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, HIV, TB, diabetes and hypertension. Ken Banks of Frontline SMS has a nice post up describing how the campaign works.

Researchers visit public health institutions countrywide and check on the availability of a list of 10 essential medicines. These are medicines that should be readily available in public health facilities. The researchers then report on the results through short messaging services (SMS) to a common site, and the data is reflected in a map a that shows areas where medication is out of stock. After a pilot phase, the reporting has now been opened up to patients who are visiting public health facilities.

One of the interesting things about the Stop Stock-Out campaign is the great offline community outreach they are doing with their campaign. They have also reach out to traditional media e.g. TV and radio stations to publicize their campaign. In contrast, most of the Ushahidi deployments to date have mainly relied on online and viral marketing efforts (Peaceheroes is another exception), which has its limitations when trying to get reports from people on the ground. Here’s a clip of a feature a local Kenya TV station (K24) did on the campaign and what it hopes to achieve.

We also recommend reading the blog of one of the Open Society Fellows (Michael Ballard), who helped get the technology portion of the campaign up and running.