mHealth improves access to essential medicines in Nigeria
Tracking and stocking essential medication are challenges for many African countries. People living in rural areas often don’t have access to primary health care facilities, and even if they do, facilities frequently run out of essential medicines. To address this problem, Kaduna State Ministry of Health, the third most populous region in Nigeria, Vodacom and Novartis have implemented SMS for Life 2.0, an mHealth programme.
SMS for Life 2.0 isn't a new concept. It builds on the SMS for Life programme launched by Novartis in 2009, which used cell phones to manage stock-outs of malaria medicines in more than 10,000 healthcare facilities across sub-Saharan countries says an article in eHealthNews.
Pharmi web has the Novartis press release. It says SMS for Life 2.0 uses smartphones and tablet computers to improve access to medicines and increase disease surveillance, helping to provide better care for patients. It also builds on its success and introduced eLearning for local health workers.
SMS for Life 2.0 allows healthcare workers to track stock levels for HIV, TB and leprosy treatments, and antimalarial vaccinations. It also allows them to send notifications to district medical officers when stock levels are low, ensuring adequate and timely supplies of all essential medicines.
SMS for Life 2.0 will also:
- Monitor disease surveillance parameters of maternal and infants deaths, malaria, yellow fever and cholera
- Improve stock visibility which will improve supply chain management, by allowing authorities to improve demand forecasts for the treatments
- Facilitate health workers’ training in local facilities using eLearning modules
- Improve healthcare by better access to essential medicines so reducing disease prevalence in communities
Zambia’s Ministry of Health has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Novartis to roll out SMS for Life 2.0 to some 2,000 health facilities. It’ll start in 2017.