South Africa has become the first country in the world to launch an ATM-like vending machine to dispense medicines to patients with chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.
This was revealed by Ian Sanne, from Right to Care health organisation, a non-profit organisation that helps the national health department to install and maintain the machines, funded by the German and United States governments.
It works like a cash-vending machine but gives out medicines. Patients can also speak to pharmacists located at a call center by using a telephone receiver on the unit and receive advice on their medicines.
Sanne explains: “Each site has the capacity to cater for 50 000 scripts per month. The machines dispense chronic medication for illnesses such as HIV, hypertension, and diabetes.”
Aimed at reducing waiting times and congestion in public healthcare facilities, the machine has provided medication to more than 8,000 patients since its launch in January 2017.
BHEKISISA, a South African non-profit website reports that the units exist in six cities across the country, including Johannesburg, Diepsloot and Soweto with large populations of HIV positive persons.
According to the Human Sciences Research Council’s 2017 household survey, about 7.9 million of almost 58 million of South Africa’s population is HIV positive.
Meanwhile, with 4.3 million treatment received in August 2018, the country’s national HIV plan is focused to place 90% of HIV-positive people who know their status on treatment by 2020.
About 3.4 million Nigerians are believed to be living with HIV while only 1,090,233 have been placed on antiretroviral treatment.