The Cipla Foundation, through its Sha'p Left initiative, provides high-quality, customised chronic medicine pick-up point facilities (PUPs) around the country and recently landed its 20th PUP.
The Central Chronic Medication Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD) programme is a national Department of Health initiative working to decongest crowded state healthcare facilities and improve access to chronic medication. In total, more than 2.4 million South Africans have registered on the CCMDD programme since it was launched in 2014. The goal is to have three million South Africans registered by the end of 2020.
CCMDD-PUPs are strategically located and help reduce the patients' travel time (and associated travel costs) to collect chronic medication, while also saving time that would have been spent waiting in long queues.
Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla Medpro, said: "Many of these CCMDD patients would previously have spent one full day a month visiting national health facilities and incur transport costs in addition to time (and income) lost at work. The financial impact of this is huge – CCMDD patients have reported up to 43% savings."
President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a challenge in 2018 to initiate an additional two million people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) by December 2020. The ease of collecting chronic medication from a convenient pick-up point significantly reduces patient waiting times and creates a better experience that improves adherence to medication, retention-in-care and, ultimately, better disease control. National health facilities (facilities) also benefit as CCMDD patients no longer need to attend as frequently, providing some relief to often over-burdened facilities.
To date, the CCMDD programme reported a 22% increase in treatment adherence. To ensure continued improved adherence to respective treatments, the programme is also developing novel mechanisms to remind patients to collect their medicines. Adherence to medication is critical for improved patient outcomes as the World Health Organisation stated that "improving medication adherence would have a greater impact on the health of the population than any new treatments or inventions that we have. Because we have good treatment, but we know that our patients aren't taking their medicine."
Miller notes that while ART is a core focus area, CCMDD facilities also provide patients with access to treatment for other chronic conditions. "Currently, 65% of patients use the CCMDD pick-up points exclusively for collecting ARVs, while 24% use the facilities for the treatment of NCDs and 12% for a combination of both."
Reflecting on the programme's rapid recent expansion – especially in 2020 – Miller credits the strong partnership between the national Department of Health and the United States Agency for International Development (USAid).
USAid Southern Africa mission director, John Groarke, said: "The United States is committed to supporting, through the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), sustainable public-private partnerships like the one the US Agency for International Development (USAid) has with the Cipla Foundation. We're proud to support a programme designed to promote entrepreneurial approaches to development and improving access to life-saving medicines."
"The Cipla Foundation will continue to work closely with these key stakeholders to optimise enrolment into the CCMDD programme, in order to ensure convenient access to medication for all South Africans and to help achieve treatment goals in 2020," said Miller.