From Business Daily
Next time you fall sick and need a drug for treatment just press *651# and find out if it is available or out of stock in the nearest health facility for your next course of action.
The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) in a public private partnership has launched Kemsa e-mobile application to provide patients information about availability of drugs in public hospitals.
The technology is available to mobile subscribers on Safaricom network.
This is good news to many rural folks who have to travel long distances to get to a health centre but end up being told that the drug required for treatment is out of stock.
“The mobile technology is now used to extend health services to citizens and also help realise cost savings with increased and measurable impact to health outcomes,” said Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation mHealth Kenya country director Cathy Mwangi.
To the public who have expressed concerns over corruption in the health sector where drugs are diverted to private hospitals, the Kemsa e-mobile application is likely to help reduce the menace.
“The success of mobile technology in Kenya has set precedence globally, and in many fronts,” said Dr Mwangi.
The initiative jointly with the Fintech Group is said to be the first in the region.
The company developed the application that is accessible from even the most basic phone. The mobile service provider Safaricom offers its network infrastructure for countrywide reach of the service targeting millions of the telco’s subscribers.
Another private company involved in the project is Safemark, the developers of integrity system that will help Kemsa foster transparency and curb corruption in the new system.
The app has a platform for the public to report any irregularities and complaints to the relevant authorities.
According to Dr Mwangi, the contribution of the private sector partners would boost the intended impact of the Kemsa e-mobile app.
The e-mobile technology was unveiled last week at Isinya Health Centre in Kajiado County but is linked to more than 6,000 hospitals countrywide.
Speaking at the launch, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that it would boost service delivery and access to healthcare.
“It delights that Kemsa being one of the Vision 2030 flagship project has adopted a digital technology service delivery and increased access to healthcare,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Mr Macharia said that the ministry would ensure access to universal healthcare for all in line with the Constitution.
“To demonstrate the commitment, the government has gradually increased health spending on medical commodities,” he said.
The e-mobile app is expected to revolutionise how Kemsa interacts with public hospitals.
The project aims to ease communication between the institutions and medicine supplier in a seamless manner. It will also ensure efficiency in initiating orders for medical supplies and allow for more effective distribution of essential drugs to public hospitals.
Julia Kamau, a nurse in charge of Isinya Health Centre said that the traditional way of ordering for fresh supplies was too slow.
“Ordering for the drugs involved a lot of paper work starting with listing the details before passing them to the district pharmacists who in turn forwards the information to Kemsa,” said the nurse.
Ms Kamau says that with the new technology most of the tasks would be completed at the facility on a mobile phone.
Health Principal Secretary Fred Segor said that innovation was key to quality healthcare.
“Equal access to affordable health will not be possible unless we begin to re-invent, re-vitalise and revolutionise how we serve citizens,” said Prof Segor. “We must do things differently. The use of technology has taken centre stage in many sectors.”
The Principal Secretary said that partnerships would ensure efficiency in use of resources acquired for health projects.
However, Kemsa chairman Solomon Karanja said that despite the automation of business processes, the agency would still vet quality of medical supplies during procurement, storage and distribution based on the World Health Organisation standards.
Some of the patients who are likely to benefit most from the innovation include those prescribed key drugs for non-communicable diseases and terminal illnesses such as tuberculosis.