ATM pharmacy inspired by large number of HIV+ people in SA

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

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

JOHANNESBURG - Non-profit organisation Right To Care says the idea of an ATM pharmacy was motivated by the large number of people suffering from HIV/Aids in South Africa, and the hours they spend in queues waiting for medication.

Right To Care partnered with the Gauteng Health Department and other organisations to create the pharmacy dispensing unit which was launched in Alexandra in northern Johannesburg earlier on Thursday.

It’s a technology that gives patients suffering from chronic illnesses their repeat prescriptions in under three minutes.

WATCH: Africa's first ATM pharmacy launched in Alex

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

Right to Care CEO Professor Ian Sanne says he’s proud to see the machine working and making a difference because it was just an idea seven years ago.

“At the Helen Joseph Hospital, we found that patients were coming in at 4 am and some were leaving at 4 pm or 5 pm. That’s two and half million work days lost or enormous cost to patients.”

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

“The concept has been proven; it works and because of that, we’re launching it.”

Ramokgopa says the machines have been in operation for about three months and have serviced at least 4,000 patients so far.