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New App to track medicine stock shortages

Written by Amukelani Chauke
One of the biggest challenges that compounds the burden of disease in the country is running out of drugs – a phenomenon called drug-stock-outs.

The Department of Health has been battling with this problem for some time now.

Government has now implemented a stock visibility system known as SVS in primary healthcare clinics.

“This is a mobile app that healthcare professionals use to scan medicine barcodes and enter the stock levels for ARVs, anti-TB medication and vaccines.

“This information is in real-time and is available at any geographic location, via the web,” he said.

To date six provinces have the SVS covering 1 900 or 60 percent of the country’s clinics.

He said plans were underway to have 100 percent of all primary healthcare clinics reporting medicine availability into a national medicine surveillance centre within the next three months.

Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution Programme.

The Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing Programme makes it possible for stable patients to collect their medication from a pick-up point near their home or work – saving both time and money.

“It also reduces waiting times at clinics by reducing volumes of patients who have to come to a clinic.” 

According to the department there approximately 400 000 patients have been enrolled into the programme, accessing their medicines from over
1 000 pick-up points, including adherence clubs, occupational health sites, general practitioners and private pharmacies.

The department was planning to reach 800 000 patients by the end of this financial year.

“We also need to ensure the rational use of medicines. To this end, we have standard treatment guidelines (STGs).

“Last year we launched an app to disseminate these guidelines, starting with the primary healthcare STGs.

“This application is freely available from all app stores and also works offline to assist health professionals in remote areas with poor or no connectivity,” he said.

The app helps decision-making at the point-of-care. It also has a function to report any stock-outs of essential medicines.  Any doctor in any health facility, on prescribing any essential medicine and told that it is out of stock, can press a button which will report directly to Pretoria.

“The doctor does not have to struggle with the management of the hospital or clinic which would have reported the low stock if there was good management in that facility.

“The application has already been downloaded 15 000 times in South Africa,” he said.

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