A young patient in Mpumalanga, South Africa, has found hope in her HIV journey through access to treatment, thanks to Right ePharmacy and USAID.
In 2018, Yvonne Zitha learned that she had HIV. “I got it when I was young. I was scared because my friends died from HIV,” she says. Zitha, who lives with her sister in a rural area in Mpumalanga, South Africa, was going to a nearby health facility to collect her antiretroviral treatment, but she wasn’t taking it regularly, she hid it from others and the long queues in the center overwhelmed her.
Zitha found hope in the nurse at the clinic, Sibongile Mondlane, who provided counseling to her. Eventually, Zitha realized that she had to commit to taking her medication. However, collecting her medicine remained a challenge. “I used to fetch it from the nurse. But I had to wait for many hours. My immune system was improving, so I wanted to adhere, but the queues were too long,” she says.
Because Zitha was getting stronger, a nurse suggested she use the Collect & Go smart locker option for her medicine collection. Smart lockers safely store a patient’s medicine until it is convenient for them to collect it. Once the patient receives a one-time pin on their mobile, they know it’s time for their next collection. “I was shown how to use Collect & Go – it was so easy. I am so happy as I get my medicine whenever I want,” says Zitha, whose viral load is now in control.
Nurse Mondlane adds, “Collect & Go reduces work for healthcare workers by reducing the queues in a facility while making medicine collection quick for patients. We promote adherence, so quick medicine collection is very important.” Right to Care district pharmacist, Kgadi Moremi, explains that, “It is not only convenient for users but also takes significant pressure off healthcare workers. Chronic patients who are stable on their treatment can easily and quickly access their
medicine.” This includes HIV medicine as well as medicines for diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and other chronic conditions. Collect & Go smart lockers were developed by Right to Care’s innovation subsidiary, Right ePharmacy, to support medicine collection solutions in South Africa. The health facility is supported by health non-profit NGO, Right to Care, with funding from PEPFAR through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to help it achieve UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets. It serves over 3,200 HIVpositive patients, with 2,800 of these now using Collect & Go, which is also supported by USAID. 92 percent of the patients
on anti-retrovirals at the center are now virally suppressed.