Last Mile Medical Supply Distribution Across Africa
While the UN Sustainable Development Goals have been in existence since 2015, prior to 2020, my experience is that many citizens of developed economies were either unaware of them, or, were unable to find personal relevance in them.
However, along came two major global events that made many sit up and pay attention to the SDGs.
First, the climate emergency highlighted that SDG 13 (Climate Action) is an existential concern for all of us. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the world in its tracks, highlighting the relevance of global health and SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) for everyone.
Health Effects Us All
While good health is important for everyone, access to even basic healthcare varies dramatically across the planet.
Exploring the components (known as targets and indicators) of SDG 3, you soon discover the stark reality of the health disparities between nations.
The quality of care that you can expect to achieve is very much dictated by where you were born, and where you live.
The data presented in the SDG tracker highlights this at national levels, with the African continent exhibiting the most challenging scenarios. This is a combination of many factors, from macro governmental to more local challenges.
Breaking Down Healthcare Challenges
Like all SDGs, SDG 3 is broken down into smaller pieces known as targets. SDG 3 has some very specific targets, as well as some more generic global targets. In particular there are targets looking at the availability of essential medicines, the development of medical research and basic health care, as well as how easy it is to access essential health services across the population.
This target, known as Indicator 3.8.1, highlights the stark contrast between the African continent and the rest of the world, and is shown in the graphic below.
Coverage of essential health services
Access To Healthcare
Right ePharmacy is a technology company aiming to solve the challenge of access to medication and healthcare across both the African continent, and internationally.
Their Managing Director, Fanie Hendriksz, spoke with me about some of the challenges the communities face.
The picture he painted is one of multiple compounding factors, from high demand and overburdened staff, through to lack of infrastructure and availability of medical equipment or medication.
The result of this is that patients can often wait up to 6 hours to collect their chronic medication every month, which has an impact on both health and economic factors.
From a health point of view, having to wait six hours, let alone the journey that is sometimes involved in order to reach the clinic, puts off many patients, therefore reducing adherence to their medical programmes, reducing the effectiveness and chance of a positive outcome for the patient.
Economically the situation is also not good for both the patient and the communities, as patients have to spend money to travel and take time out of work.
Solving the Last-Mile Medication Challenge
Watch this video to find out how Right ePharmacy’s automated, connected technologies are helping deliver better health for citizens across Africa.
Fanie talks about how their technology is helping:
Increase patient convenience
Improve worker and economic productivity
Deliver better health outcomes
Fanie also shares the story of how they built their solution, as well as some of the challenges they had to overcome.
Watch the video now to find out more
Developing Impactful Technology
During my conversation with Fanie from Right ePharmacy, he mentioned that as the solutions provider they partnered with key companies to bring these innovative healthcare solutions to market, including the software solutions partner BBD.
I decided to speak with BBD about both their role in the solution and the sustainability impacts their business aspires to achieve through work with companies like Right ePharmacy.
Building Impactful Software
I had the chance to speak with both André de Witt who is the Group Executive working directly with Fanie, and Iddo-Imri Scholtz who is the technical lead for the Right ePharmacy projects.
What struck me about this conversation was how closely the two teams worked together to overcome technical, cultural and geographic challenges, creating innovative solutions that are actually making people's lives better today.
Perhaps the biggest challenge the teams needed to overcome was how to deliver digital experiences and eCommerce-like delivery and pick-up solutions in areas that don’t have Internet connectivity. They even had a name for this - Disconnected Connectivity.
Watch the video with André and Iddo-Imri to hear about:
Technical elements behind Right ePharmacy's solution
Including logistics integration, QR codes, smart lockers and disconnected connectivity
SDG 8, providing decent work opportunities
Hiring and developing local talent to build teams of the brightest minds
Key lessons and challenges
Close partnerships are key, and never under-estimate the end user
Also in the video, BBD share examples of other work, such as AI powered organisational search capabilities to extract value from unstructured and structured data sources, as well as their plans for the future.
Watch the video now to find out more
If you want to learn more about either of the companies I featured in this article, please visit the following links.