ATM dispensing medicines in South Africa to ease hospital burden

ATM Pharmacy — Photo: Right ePharmacy

South Africa has kickstarted its tele-pharmacy project with the installation of a machine that looks like an ATM and can read prescriptions and dispense medication to patients with chronic illnesses anytime of the day.

The Right ePharmacy project was launched to ease the burden on healthcare facilities. Its flagship product is the Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU) which is also called ATM pharmacy. It reads prescriptions and dispenses medications.

The electronic and robotic technology uses cloud-based technology which enables live patient counselling via Skype. The technology manages patient data and links the patient to a remote pharmacist whenever they need help.

The cloud’s SMS system also keeps users informed about their next medicine collection dates and sends out reminders.

Still in its pilot stage, each PDU costs around $700,000 to set up, reports Turkish media TRT.  Four machines are expected to be placed in shopping centres in Johannesburg this year, and then subsequently around the country. About 5,000 patients have benefitted from the pilot stage, the report adds.

The project is funded by the German and US governments, local health authorities and NGOs.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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