Novartis launches SMS for Life 2.0 in Nigeria to help improve Access to Essential Medicines

Novartis, the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Vodacom have partnered to launch a mobile-based healthcare program called SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna State, Nigeria in a move to increase the availability of essential medicines and improve care for patients across the region.

The SMS for Life 2.0 builds on the SMS for Life program launched by Novartis in 2009, which used cell phones to manage stock-outs of malaria medicines in more than 10,000 healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan countries.

According to Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, “Novartis is proud to partner with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health to implement the first ever SMS for Life 2.0 program. Companies must join forces with the public sector to co-create innovative solutions to improve access to healthcare around the world. This is the first step in what we hope will be an impactful public health initiative, unleashing the potential of mobile technology and big data to increase the quality of care for underserved patients.”

SMS for Life 2.0 program will now use smartphones and tablet computers to address key operational challenges at peripheral healthcare facilities in Kaduna State. Local healthcare workers will be able to track stock levels of essential antimalarials, vaccines, and HIV, TB and leprosy treatments, and send notifications to district medical officers when stock levels are low. The program will also monitor surveillance parameters of malaria, maternal and infant deaths and seven other diseases, including measles, yellow fever and cholera.

In addition, SMS for Life 2.0 will enable training of healthcare workers in local facilities using on-demand eLearning modules.

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“We welcome the introduction of SMS for Life 2.0 in primary healthcare facilities, where we often face stockouts of medicines,” said Dr. Hadiza S. Balarabe, Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency. “With more than six million people, Kaduna is Nigeria’s third most populous state. We hope the program will improve healthcare services by expanding access to essential medicines, thus reducing disease prevalence in communities.”

Medicines do not always reach the patients who need them, particularly those living in remote areas. Running out of stock is a major hurdle in ensuring access to essential treatments. By increasing stock visibility, health authorities will be able to monitor stock levels of these medicines in real time. Furthermore, disease surveillance data combined with the stock reporting function can improve supply chain management, by allowing authorities to better forecast demand for the treatments. This will help to ensure people get the medicines they need in a timely fashion.

In addition to the launch in Nigeria, Novartis and its non-profit partner Right to Care, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zambian Ministry of Health to deploy SMS for Life 2.0 in up to 2,000 health facilities across the country. The program, which will include stock reporting, disease surveillance and eLearning, will be supported by Vodacom and is expected to launch in Q2 2017.

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