Patients with chronic illnesses can now receive their medication in under five minutes, thanks to an “ATM pharmacy” that was launched in Twin City Heidedal on Tuesday, reports Bloemfontein Courant.
The quick dispensing pharmacies were initiated by non-profit organisation Right to Care. According to CEO Ian Sanne, this groundbreaking Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU) is aimed at improving the health of South Africans, particularly in the public sector.
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“We are resolute on improving healthcare through innovation. This is a brainchild that has taken about eight years to develop,” said Sanne.
He explained that another aim of the project is to lessen the congestion in healthcare facilities, therefore, improving service delivery.
“The aim is to offload clinics from the large numbers of patients and the intense waiting times that are experienced,” stated Sanne.
The innovative project is in partnership with the Free State department of health and the latest ATM pharmacy is a first outside of the Gauteng province. Patients will have access to pharmacists via a Skype-like audio-visual interaction and telephone, ensuring access to the right medicine and counselling from qualified pharmacy staff located in Centurion.
According to Right ePharmacy manager Thato Mathabe, this allows for better and more efficient use of pharmacists, as it is a scarce skill.
MEC of health Montseng Tsiu, a former nurse, stated that PDUs are a safe way to get medication without wasting people’s time. Tsiu explained, “It will show the public that we respect them and have heeded their complaints of long queues when getting their medicines. This is also an alternative to people who work and do not have time to wait in long lines for large parts of the day.”
Patients who have been stable on their medication for a year can request for their local hospital or clinic to refer them to the PDU.
The pharmacies have been proven effective for the past four months since they began to operate. Local and elderly patient Queen Buffel expressed her gratitude for the medical ATMs: “We do not have to wait in line all day for our medication. My husband and I both need heart, diabetes, and cholesterol medicine and with this, there are no hassles.”