HOW TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION DRIVES FIGHT AGAINST HIV
The Kingdom of Eswatini has embraced the use of technology in the country’s health care systems which includes the introduction of the Client Information Management System CIMS, which is changing from the paper-based system to an electronic health record (EHR) system.
According to Measure Evaluation, this change is being undertaken to harmonize healthcare data and improve patient care. The country’s client management information system (CMIS) is an EHR system that improves patient care by improving data quality and access, reducing duplicated cases within the system, and improving patient flow and wait times within the clinic.
The country’s fight against HIV/AIDS is already benefiting from the introduction of the system as evidenced during the commissioning of the Chakaza Emphilweni Clinic and the official launch of Lula Meds, an Automated Medicine Dispensing System. The Chakaza Emphilweni clinic is one of the facilities supported by Georgetown University, Centre for Global Health Practice and Impact through support from PEPFAR in the Manzini region. The clinic was formerly known as Litsemba Letfu Male Clinic and New Start Clinic supported by PSI Eswatini. The clinic offers integrated health services for both males and females using the latest technologies. The facility has 2420 on ART as at the end of March 2023.
The commissioning and launch were officiated by the Minister for Health Senator Lizzie Nkosi and US Ambassador Earl Miller. Minister Lizzie Nkosi said they are battling as a ministry to ensure that they take it to the 21st century fully digitised health services and to hear how the Chakaza Clinic is using the CMIS is pleasing because they are looking at the potential of the system and what else it can do. She said she was pleased to learn that the system has a potential to notify and remind clients on their dates to collect their ART.
“We are battling just now to make sure that the CMIS is linking properly with our supply chain system for medicines which is another initiative supported by the US Government, PEPFAR and USAID” alluded the minister of health.
The minister also spoke about how well the country’s HIV response has been driven by data, which is one service they were very clear about from the beginning when they started the CMIS as it is data drive. She says they have analysed data, collect every day, using it to plan, using it to inform the country’s action. She pointed out that the country did not get to 95-95-95 by a miracle but it is through the work of government, the civil society, development partners and health workers who were out there collecting, bringing back and analysing that data and informing the health system of where the country what’s to go.
The minister further stated that the country is in the last mile and wants to eliminate HIV all together hence she encouraged the innovation in testing and the encouraging figures of men taking PrEP. She further added that without fully digitising and using all the available innovations, the country will not achieve what it has set out to achieve in Ending AIDS as a public health threat.
Services Offered at the Chakaza Clinic
- TB/HIV screening and testing
- PrEP and PEP
- Covid-19 vaccinations
- Antenatal Care/Postnatal care/elimination of mother to child transmission
Integrated services with TB/HIV
- NCDs – Diabetes mellitus, hypertension
- Sexual transmitted infections
- Sexual health
- HPV vaccine in the pipeline
- Health education – general and disease specific.
The Lula Meds Automated Medicine Dispenser
Georgetown University has also introduced Lula Med, which is an automated medicine dispenser lockers in various facilities including at the Chakaza Emphilweni Clinic. It is a 76-door pigeon locker system with a capacity to serve 200 clients per day.
The facilities started recruiting clients in January 2022 and loading ART parcels began in February 2022. The project has supported the recruitment of 2412 clients on Lula Meds since inception. The lockers offer convenient times for medicine collection, with 24-hour access in most facilities. This model is designed for parties with stable chronic conditions who do not have to wait in queues to collect their medication. To date over 1346 collections have me made through the lockers.
The introduction of such as innovation will ensure adherence among those on ART as they can collect their medication at their convenient time. The Minister for health commended this innovation and pleased with the US Government that the country needs more of the automated medicine dispenser lockers in urban centres as it will make a big difference in terms of ensuring that people can stay on treatment and can get that service much easier.
“So, innovation and taking this country fully and running with it into the 21st century, emphasised Minister Lizzie Nkosi.
How to use Lula Meds Smart Lockers?
- A one-time PIN/OTP/SMS will be sent to you when your medication is delivered to Lula Meds locker.
- Enter the one-time pin on the collect and go touch screen.
- The locker where your medication is stored will automatically open for you.
- Collect your medicine and close the locker.
Beyond the use of technology in the fight against HIV/AIDS at Chakaza Emphilweni Clinic through the Lula Meds, NERCHA in partnership with the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in partnership with NERCHA in Eswatini and National AIDS Commissions in Lesotho and Botswana with the financial support from SADC is implementing a technology based HIV prevention project for youth targeting young people from the ages of 15 – 24, which encourages the use of technology, in particular social media to convey HIV prevention messages. This is a demonstration that indeed technology and innovation will propel the country’s efforts in the fight against HIV resulting in the achievement of the goal of Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.