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 and digitilisation economy to benefit the health of our people. The PDU will assist us to reduce congestion in public healthcare facilities,” said MEC Ramokgopa.
The Health Department, in partnership with non-profit organisation Right to Care and Right ePharmacy, launched the PDU in Alexandra, Johannesburg on Thursday.
According to the MEC, the PDU has been tried and tested during its pilot phase which saw 4000 patients withdraw their medicines at the ATM pharmacy. A total of 18 000 medicines were dispensed during its trial.
The PDU uses world class technology that allows patients to enter their unique PIN code to withdraw medication handpicked by a robotic arm
Through a two-way Skype-like-audio-visual interaction feature, patients can also receive counselling at the ATM pharmacy.
The MEC said the counselling option ensures that the safety of patients is not compromised.
The Skype feature ensures that safety is not compromised. Patients can interact with pharmacists on how to utilise their medication and find out what the side effects are before the medicine is dispensed.
In Gauteng, over 400 00 patients receive their medication off-site as part of the department’s strategy to decongest healthcare facilities.
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.
“I hope this PDU will assist us in achieving our target of reaching the missing two million patients who should be on anti-retroviral treatment in South Africa. It will also help us with adherence to ART medication,” said MEC.
The MEC said the facility will be rolled out to other parts of Gauteng with the next stop being Soweto and Diepsloot.