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South Africa installs Africa’s first pharmacy dispensing unit (PDU)

Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg, is the recipient of Africa’s first ATM pharmacy. The Pharmacy dispensing unit was launched by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa who says it will issue medication in under 3 minutes to patients suffering from chronic illnesses.

Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg, is the recipient of Africa’s first ATM pharmacy. The Pharmacy dispensing unit was launched by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa who says it will issue medication in under 3 minutes to patients suffering from chronic illnesses.

The pharmacy dispensing unit is a self-service ATM-style medical innovation that gives patients with chronic illnesses their repeat medication within minutes. The ground breaking technology is the first in Africa, and comes after years of medical trials and technological developments by experts from Right to Care and Right ePharmacy in collaboration with the Gauteng department of health.

How it works:

The pharmacy dispensing unit uses electronic, robotic and cloud-based technology to capture, select, dispense, label and directly convey prescribed medication to patients. It has an interactive, information touchscreen and a user-friendly interface which allows for two-way Skype-like audiovisual interaction. Patients can therefore when needed, be counselled on how to take their medication and what side effects they may encounter before the medication is dispensed.

Basic steps:

–  The patient scans bar-coded ID book, ID card or pharmacy card and enters PIN;

– The patient talks to a remote pharmacist;

– The prescription and / or items are selected;

– The medicine is robotically dispensed and labelled, and drops into the collection slot;

– The patient takes receipt, which indicates next collection date.

Watch the video for more details:

The ATM Pharmacy has been created to tackle crucial obstacles in the path toward equitable healthcare in the country. These obstacles include long waiting times at clinics that can go over two hours thus discouraging consistent medication usage in patients.

Read: NAFDAC technologies are saving Nigerians from fake drugs

During the launch Gauteng MEC of Health Gwen Ramokgopa said this is a much-needed development. “Already in Gauteng we have over 400,000 patients that are receiving their pharmaceutical medicines off site as part of decongesting our facilities. This technology will assist in reaching more services to our patients.”

“I’m very much excited, encouraged and indeed inspired by this initiative.” she continued.

Fanie Hendriksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy, says the PDUs might increase patients’ adherence to their medication. “This pharmacy enhances access to quality pharmaceutical services and improves patient convenience. The early benefits have shown valuable patient and community data trends that are needed to improve patient outcomes. The technology is making it easier for people with various illnesses to have access to medication, ultimately improving adherence.”

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