In 2009, Novartis launched the SMS for Life programme to use basic, simple, available, and affordable technology like SMS to help manage stock-outs of malaria medicines in more than 10,000 healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan countries.
This was based on the premise that 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 are able to monitor stock levels of these medicines in real time.
In addition, disease surveillance data combined with the stock reporting function helps to improve supply chain management, by allowing authorities to better forecast demand for the treatments. This helps to ensure people get the medicines they need in a timely fashion.
The company has now launched SMS for Life 2.0 in Kaduna in northern Nigeria. This new and enhanced SMS for Life 2.0 programme 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 programme 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.
SMS for Life 2.0 is a joint public-private partnership led by Novartis and supported by its partners, the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Vodacom.
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 programme, which will include stock reporting, disease surveillance and eLearning, will be supported by Vodacom and is expected to launch in Q2 2017.