Reports have it that the machines, known as the Pharmacy Dispensing Units (PDUs), are currently being piloted at Thembalethu clinic in Johannesburg.
Just as they would withdraw cash from bank ATMs, patients can get their medications from the PDUs.
To use the machine, patients will register for the service and thereafter receive a card (which is similar to a bank card). To “withdraw” their medication, they insert their card into the PDU, enter their PIN and select the medication they require from their prescription list.
The machine, in response to the received command, does the needful – it dispenses the selected medication.
The PDU will also allow patients to communicate directly with a trained pharmacist using a built-in video conferencing function.
The South African Ministry of Health made this announcement, and more, at the ongoing 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban.