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SA finalist shines in global Sandoz HACk competition

Can a 28-year-old pharmacist in rural Mpumalanga help revolutionise healthcare access in South Africa and globally?

Johannes Mangane’s PillDrop entry to the Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (Sandoz HACk) has made it to the finals –  a huge accolade given that only 6 out of 150 global entries have made it this far. His solution? An ‘Uber’ opportunity to revolutionise access to chronic medication in South Africa and globally. Your comments, questions and thoughts online at: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/healthcare-access/feedback/johannes-mangane-s-idea for PillDrop can help to bring this solution to life.

Global Sandoz finalist Johannes Mangane

Says Carel Meintjes, Commercial Excellence Head at Sandoz in South Africa: “Two billion people worldwide currently cannot access the medicines they need. In South Africa, a lack of infrastructure, especially in remote rural areas, is a huge challenge we are well aware of. While there are largescale initiatives by industry stakeholders that try to tackle these challenges, they need to be supported by community-led change, driven by innovative small-scale solutions that can make a big difference. This is why Sandoz HACk was born.”

“PillDrop was developed by Johannes in response to his experience of serving one of the most vulnerable communities in our country. It uses mobile technology, a strong theme of the 2016/17 Sandoz HACk challenge, to address key weaknesses in local healthcare access. If he wins this challenge, his proposed solution can, without doubt, be applied locally and eventually globally to immense benefit,” says Meintjes.

PillDrop – a mobile platform 

Says Mangane: “In South Africa, being on chronic medication can mean long lines, expensive trips to distant medical centers and clinics, and sometimes unfilled prescriptions due to medicine shortages. The cost to patients is high – it can mean a day or more of lost work time, high travel costs, and exposure to secondary infections. The solution I submitted – PillDrop – is a response to this challenge that I see daily.”

PillDrop was inspired by the sustainability and scalability of Uber systems but informed by Mangane’s understanding of the abundance of local resources – smartphones, network coverage and a variety of transport systems – that could make this solution workable and sustainable in the local environment.

“PillDrop is a mobile app that will enable patients to register as users and motorists or motorcycle drivers to register as providers. The fee charged by the driver to collect and deliver the medication will be less than the normal cost of travel by the patient to collect the medicine. The app will also enable the patient to view availability of the medicine at the pickup point before initiating a request. In addition, the app will be used to educate patients on disease management, and act as a platform for community pharmacovigilance, enabling patients to report adverse drug reactions online.”

There’s a lot more to the app. It enables pharmacists to schedule medicine deliveries and adds a security layer, requiring the registration of PillDroppers and GPS tracking of parcels.

Take it to market!

PillDrop is currently in conceptual development. Mangane’s entry, along with that of the other five finalists, have been posted on the Open IDEO website https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/healthcare-access/feedback , a network of creatives, technologists, social entrepreneurs and other interested people who help others solve problems. Sandoz South Africa is encouraging South Africans to take a look at Mangane’s idea and support him during this feedback phase by sharing their comments, questions and thoughts to help strengthen and evolve his idea.

Meanwhile, Sandoz South Africa and Sandoz Global are supporting the finalists to strengthen their ideas into proposals to pitch at Wired Health in London on 7-9 March 2017. Three winners will be chosen from the six finalists. Each will win Euros 20,000 seed funding and mentor support from Sandoz.

Says Mangane: “The seed funding will assist me to develop the concept into a prototype and initiate a pilot project that will hopefully attract further funding from public and private sectors. I truly believe this solution can alleviate the challenges faced in terms of access to chronic medicines by people living in remote areas of our country and also help improve public healthcare services and delivery streams.”

Finalists can secure feedback until mid-February 2017.

Says Meintjes: “A digital era brings us closer to the dream of integrated access to medicines and improved healthcare for all. As a global leader in generic medicines, Sandoz provides an important perspective: from discovering new ways to improve and extend lives, to pioneering new approaches that ensure medicines and health services reach the people that need them.”

“It is wonderful to see the level of innovation, entrepreneurship and sheer goodwill emanating from the Sandoz HACk participants, but it takes a concerted effort to move from idea to execution. The solutions that are being brought to light, like Johannes’ PillDrop, are solutions built from the ground up to fit the needs of the community. It’s important for us all to support these efforts,” says Meintjes.