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Looters destroy innovative ATM pharmacy at Alex Plaza

ALEXANDRA – Feeling is that they could have been mistaken for cash ATMs unless looters wanted the medicines they dispense.

Looters plundered the Right ePharmacy’s pioneering ATM pharmacy that used to dispense chronic medication for the elderly which was installed at the Alex Plaza Shopping Complex next to the Pan Africa Shopping Centre.

It is believed looters during the recent civil unrest must have mistaken the medicine ATM for a cash machine and vandalised it unless if they wanted to lay their hands on the medicines themselves.

The ATMs, which were scattered all over Gauteng as a pilot project before being rolled out countrywide, have since been permanently closed in the province after three of the four sites were totally destroyed during the riots, one of which was the Alex Plaza outlet.

The Pharmacy Dispensing Units (PDUs), better known as ATM pharmacies, are a South African award-winning healthcare innovation that were intended to be piloted until September this year after which the project would have been evaluated for possible rollout to the rest of the country.

Since inception, the ATM pharmacies in Gauteng have served almost 55 000 patients and dispensed more than 710 000 chronic medicine prescriptions. The innovation allowed patients to collect two months’ supply of their medication in under three minutes offering an audio-visual tele-pharmacy consultation with each visit.

The Right ePharmacy team, in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health, is assisting affected patients to transition to other facilities so that they may continue receiving their chronic medication uninterrupted. Patients are being directed to hospitals, clinics and alternative service providers.

No patient records were compromised as all data is said to be secured in cloud-based records. These advanced electronic pharmacies, located at the Baragwanath Mall in Diepkloof and Ndofaya Mall in Meadowlands, both in Soweto and the Alexandra unit at Alex Plaza, were all destroyed.

One of the survivors was the unit at the Bambanani Mall in Diepsloot which was largely left intact. The units had also been installed in Bloemfontein at the Twin City Mall in Mangaung, Free State, which was unharmed and business continues as normal, said Fanie Hendriksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy.

Hendriksz confirmed the company’s ongoing commitment to assist, innovate and collaborate with last mile solutions for public healthcare. “We remain committed to the development of ATM pharmacy technology, our other innovations and successful projects such as the Collect & Go™ smart lockers, in-pharmacy automation and centralised dispensing facilities to continue positively impacting the lives of patients in Africa.”

He added, “We are grateful to our funders, partners and shareholders, Right to Care, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Global Fund for making it possible to actualise innovative solutions that positively impact the lives of patients on the continent.”

Right ePharmacy is in discussion with several parties including other provinces, private sector healthcare companies and other African and international providers which are interested in deploying its innovative ATM pharmacy technology.

Details: Right ePharmacy tele-pharmacy 080 001 4945.

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