JOHANNESBURG– The Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health of South Africa’s Gauteng Province, Gwen Ramokgopa, says snaking queues of people lining up to collect medication for chronic diseases at public health facilities will soon be a thing of the past with the launch of the Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU).
The PDU is the first of its kind in Africa. It operates like an ATM, only in this case it dispenses medication, giving it the name the “ATM pharmacy”.
We have leveraged the ICT (information communication technology) and digital economy to benefit the health of our people. The PDU will assist us to reduce congestion in public healthcare facilities, she added when launching the PDU here Thursday.
The provincial Health Department, in partnership with a non-profit organization, Right to Care, and Right ePharmacy, collaborated in launching the PDU.
According to Ramokgopa, the PDU has been tried and tested during its pilot phase which saw 4,000 patients withdrawing their medicines at the ATM pharmacy. A total of 18,000 medicines were dispensed during its trial.
The PDU uses world class technology which allows patients to enter their unique PIN code to withdraw medication handpicked by a robotic arm Through a two-way Skype-like-audio-visual inter-action feature, patients can also receive counselling at the ATM pharmacy.
Ramokgopa said the counselling option ensures that the safety of patients is not compromised as patients can interact with pharmacists on how to utilize their medication and find out what the side effects are before the medicine is dispensed.
In Gauteng Province, the smallest but most populous province in the country, more than 400,000 patients receive their medication off-site as part of the department’s strategy to decongest healthcare facilities and the PDU is also expected to increase the reach to HIV and AIDS patients and to reduce the number of patients who default on chronic medication.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK