SMS for Life: How smartphones are helping track stock levels of essential medicines
Vodafone presents a case study of the programme which is helping to eliminate stock-outs of essential medicines in remote areas
In many resource-constrained countries, supply chain problems make it difficult to get essential medicines and healthcare commodities to patients in a timely fashion, particularly those living in remote areas.
To improve the management of drug inventories, SMS for Life was launched in 2009. Led by Novartis and supported by public and private partners, SMS for Life was initially launched to help prevent stock-outs of antimalarials in Tanzania, but it has since been rolled out in more than 10,000 public health facilities in Kenya, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Over the years, the scope of the program has also expanded to more disease areas and health parameters.
SMS for Life aims to eliminate stock-outs of essential medicines through simple, affordable and widely available technologies – including mobile phones, smartphones and tablet computers, the Internet and electronic mapping. Each week, healthcare workers in primary and peripheral health facilities report medicine and vaccine stocks and disease surveillance data.
SMS for Life 2.0 was launched in December 2016 in Kaduna State, Nigeria, together with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Vodacom (Vodafone). With SMS for Life 2.0, local healthcare workers use smartphones and tablet computers to track stock levels of essential antimalarials, vaccines, HIV, TB and leprosy treatments, and send notifications to district medical officers when stock levels are low.
The program also enables the monitoring of surveillance parameters for malaria, maternal and infant deaths and seven other diseases. Finally, healthcare workers in local facilities can be trained using on-demand eLearning modules.
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