eHealth News, South Africa

SA’s PDU Wins Prestigious German Global Health Award

Named Pharmacy of the Future, the winning solution allows patients to quickly and conveniently collect their repeat prescriptions at a PDU.


Last night, a German / South African healthcare innovation won the German Global Health Award by the German Healthcare Partnership (GHP), the BDI (Federation of German Industry) and BIO Germany (the association of the biotechnology industry) held at the B20 Global Health Conference in Berlin.

Named Pharmacy of the Future, the winning solution allows patients to quickly and conveniently collect their repeat prescriptions at a Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU).

Pharmacy of the Future was the result of collaboration with multiple stakeholders: Mach4 as the only technology provider willing to customise a solution for South Africa, Right e-Pharmacy who contributed their pharmacy engineering and design expertise and GIZ (German International Cooperation) South Africa. Major funders of the 3-year project are the German Government and USAID.

The PDU is currently being piloted in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health at various community shopping centres.

The first prize in the category ‘Small and Medium Enterprises’ of this first-ever Global Health Award was handed to MACH4 Automatisierunstechnik GmbH by the German Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Brigitte Zypries, for innovative solutions for developing and emerging countries.

“The objective of the PDU is to improve pharmacy dispensing services and access to medicines in South Africa. This German Global Health Award recognised SMEs which develop innovations especially tailored to the needs of developing and emerging countries. We are delighted to accept the award for our work in co-developing the PDU and helping to create the Pharmacy of the Future,” said a founder of Mach4 and Senior Director Engineering, Dirk Beils,

Right e-Pharmacy, as the chief implementers have enhanced the project through their cloud-based information system which hosts and manages patient data and links the patient to a remote pharmacist via an audio-video link.

The robot of MACH4 dispenses the medication to the PDU. The cloud’s SMS system keeps users informed about their next collection dates and sends out reminders. This promotes patient retention and aids the early identification and intervention for patients at risk of non-adherence. The system results in positive clinical outcomes and effective patient data management.

“The PDU helps to significantly reduce the costs of dispensing medicines as well as to enhance patients’ compliance by reducing waiting times and distances to get the medication,” said CEO of Right to Care, Prof Ian Sanne.

“It also reduces economic losses resulting from employees’ having to take time off work to collect medicines. In addition, it optimises stock management. Most importantly it improves patient care. There is a shortage of pharmacists in this country and the PDU allows tele-pharmacy through a video link built into the PDUs to best use their time, counselling patients to increase adherence,” continued Prof Sanne.

“This award is testimony to the benefits of cooperation between South Africa, Germany and the United States. Without such collaboration and innovation, we cannot advance healthcare reform in Africa,” said MD of Right e-Pharmacy, a subsidiary of Right to Care, Fanie Hendriksz.

“Right ePharmacy is the centre of excellence for its parent company, spearheading disruptive innovation and enhancing differentiated models of pharmaceutical care in South Africa. Due to the early success of the pilot, we are already engaging with the ministries of health in other African countries and with more international donor organisations to expand the rollout of this innovation,” concluded Hendriksz.

PDUs will primarily be used to dispense chronic medication to patients, but they can be customised and developed for specific programmes such as universal test and treat or malaria campaigns.

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