Virtual clinic to help monitor medicine intake in Tanzania

The Vodacom Foundation has donated mobile phones to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania to support treatment adherence among patients.

One hundred and fifty sickle cell patients are set to receive mobile handsets that will simplify monitoring of their health condition by sending videos of themselves taking their medication to the clinic from the comfort of their homes.

Sickle cell disease rate in Tanzania continues to rise as sickle cell births reach 11,000 a year. The Sickle Cell Foundation, a non-profit organization, is committed to contributing towards prevention, care and effective management of disease in Tanzania.

The Foundation is working with Muhimbili University on a project known as MDOTS that involves the use of mobile phone technology to improve adherence to medication. The mobile phones were donated by Vodacom Foundation today to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

As a pilot for the project 150 patients who receive long-term medication will be given mobile phones. These patients will not physically attend clinic but will monitor their health daily; record themselves ingesting the medication and send the video to the clinic through their phones.

Speaking during the handover ceremony today, MDOTS Program Coordinator, Dr. Robert Mongi said, “We prescribe medication for different strains of sickle cell. Patients with severe sickle cell disease are prescribed medication that must be taken daily however, not all patients observe these instructions. This project will help us determine whether monitoring intake of medication is effective in ensuring adherence to medication on a daily basis.”

Sickle Cell patients who are on long term medication tend to skip taking their medication based on lack of symptoms. This interferes with the medication’s work on the body and can result in their condition worsening.

“We understand the need to improve care and increase awareness of the sickle cell disease in Tanzania and that is why we have donated these 150 mobile handsets to enable this project. The handsets can be connected through any mobile network that patients choose,” said Head of the Vodacom Foundation, Reenu Verma.

“It is important for the private sector to join hands with the Government in efforts to build a healthier nation. We look to further support the Sickle Cell Foundation in future programs as we continue to align with Millenium Development Goal No. 6 which aims to both prevent and combat various diseases,” added Ms. Verma.

Sickle Cell disease is an inherited blood disorder. Tanzania ranks 4th in the world with the highest number of sickle cell disease births a year (up to 11,000) after Nigeria, India and DRC. Sickle cell disease is manageable through comprehensive care offered by the Sickle Cell Foundation through Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania. 

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