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In 1997 a Dutch consortium was asked to provide technical assistance to the Pharmacie Populaire du Mali (PPM), the French equivalent of Central Medical Stores, in Mali, as part of a support program funded by the government of the Netherlands. Computerization of the core operations of PPM was one of the major components of the program. After an extensive study of PPM's current and future business processes together and a thorough review of available commercial software packages, the decision was made to develop the software from scratch. This resulted in the development of the software package called 'Système Intégré de la Gestion des Médicaments' (SIGMED), a system which has been in operation since 2000.

In 2002 the package was technically upgraded and new functionality was added. The current version is running on an SQL Server 2000 database and on most other Windows server platforms (NT4, W2000, XP). SIGMED is multilingual. At the moment SIGMED runs under two languages: French and English. Other languages (e.g. Portuguese) can be easily implemented.

As a 'one-size-fits-all' approach is not likely to work for any software solution, some customization will be necessary when applying the package in other situations. However, given SIGMED's open structure (choice of platform, database and front-end software), adaptations and maintenance will be relatively easy to accomplish.

In September 2002 we have started with the implementation of this updated version of SIGMED in Central Medical Stores in Malawi. The package has also been customized to the specific needs of this CMS.