By Victoria Ojeme
Access to treatment will be now be made easier for People Living With HIV/AIDS as they will soon be able to collect their medicine at shopping malls thanks to the introduction of special ATM machines.
The machines, or rather pharmacy dispensing units, are equipped to dispense medication and are set to be rolled out at Gauteng malls in South Africa.
The Gauteng Department of Health in partnership with organisations EQUIP and Right to Care are engaging in a pilot project to ensure sufficient and easy access to treatment by people living with HIV/ AIDS.
To achieve the 90-90-90 challenge – a plan to ensure that 90% of all South Africans know their HIV status by 2020 – the pharmacy dispensing units are being set up in selected areas of Johannesburg to ensure accessibility of HIV/Aids treatment.
Dr Thembi Xulu, Chief of Party at EQUIP, describes the pharmacy dispensing units as a ground breaking solution that will allow patients to quickly and conveniently collect their prescriptions. A PDU is an ATM-like innovation using electronic and robotic technology to dispense medication. It is being piloted in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health at Ndofaya Mall in Soweto (5 PDUs), Baragwanath Mall in Soweto (3 PDUs), an unnamed outlet in Diepsloot and another 4 PDUs at the Alex Plaza in Alexandra.
EQUIP is the first Africa-led USAID-funded global consortium to deliver rapid scale-up of innovative HIV treatment and prevention solutions across 17 PEPFAR countries in Africa, South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. EQUIP was founded in October 2015 in response to a call from USAID to establish a rapid-response.