Ambassador Thomas F. Daughton remarks for the SMS printer, Mashare Clinic, Kavango, May 12, 2017
We have come here today to see one of the 39 SMS (text message) printers currently operational in Kavango East and West, at one of the 232 clinics throughout Namibia that currently uses these printers.
The use of these printers improves service delivery by reducing the time it takes for the results of a blood test –including results related to HIV – to get back to the patient.
In the past, the only way the results reached the clinic was through the Namibia Institute for Pathology (NIP) regional office sending the results by post to the district hospital. These results were then collected by the primary healthcare team and delivered to the respective clinics. Due to the vast size of Namibia and the number of clinics needed to serve the communities – and the distance from these clinics to the nearest hospital – it often took a long time for pick-ups and deliveries to be effected because, due to the distances, the collections had to be part of other scheduled pick-ups and outreach visits.
The steps involved and potential for delay meant that results could take a few days to reach the patient. Sometimes, it could take weeks or even months to reach the patient – and at worst results were sometimes lost. As a result, a patient may not have received a diagnosis, may have continued on a failing treatment regimen, or may have discontinued a problematic treatment regimen and been lost to follow up.
However, this is changing. Through a collaborative partnership with NIP, and funding from the U.S President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), CDC Namibia has supported the provision of SMS printers to clinics throughout Namibia. The use of these printers changes outcomes for patients. But don’t take my word for it – read it for yourselves:
SMS: “The use of an SMS printer reduces delivery time of test results from an average of 5 days to just 1 day”
Instead of having to wait for results to be delivered to the clinic, NIP is able to send the results directly to the clinic. This avoids the steps, that even with the best efforts, were causing delays in patient care. The use of these printers is helping people to get the treatment they need faster, to allow healthcare providers to correct treatment regimens that are failing, and to help make sure that patients continue to adhere to their treatment schedules and remain in the system. Every day these printers are improving the treatment experience for approximately….why don’t you read it for yourselves:
SMS: “Every day throughout Namibia, results for approximately 300 patients are delivered using SMS printers”
These printers are an example of how the Ministry of Health and Social Services, with the support of the US Government, is using technology to improve peoples’ lives in Namibia. I do not doubt that in this room today, we all have cell phones and there are many impressive things we can do with cellphone technology. Our healthcare service delivery should not be left behind and I am pleased to be here today to witness in person, how through the use of SMS printers, we have harnessed simple technology and are changing lives.