Alexandra patients praise new ATM pharmacy

Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa says more ATM pharmacies will be rolled out across Gauteng in the next few months.

A patient collects her chronic medication from a pharmacy dispensing unit in Alex which works like an ATM. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Patients who have used the newly launched ATM pharmacy in Alexandra, northern Johannesburg, say they’ll no longer have to spend hours in queues at local clinics or miss work because of the waiting times.

The Gauteng Health Department launched the pharmacy dispensing unit on Thursday in partnership with private health companies and non-profit organisations including “Right to Care” and “Right ePharmacy”.

The unit is the first of its kind in Africa and the technology was developed with a team from Germany.

Ayanda Mthembu stands in front of the ATM pharmacy, waiting to speak to a pharmacist who is expected to appear on the screen.

The two will speak through a Skype-like audiovisual interaction after Mthembu, a patient living in Alexandra, simply inserts her ID and patient card into the machine and enters her four-digit pin.

Her prescription will automatically appear on the screen and all she needs to do is to confirm her details with the pharmacist and her medication will come out of the machine, the same way money would from an ATM.

Mthembu says it’s not her first time and she appreciates government’s efforts.

“This machine has made a difference in my life. I no longer have to wake up early in the morning to go to a clinic for my meds.”

Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa says more ATM pharmacies will be rolled out across Gauteng in the next few months.

WATCH: Africa’s first ATM pharmacy launched in Alex