Just under 30 days ago, amid much fanfare, the Gauteng health department launched "Africa’s first ATM pharmacy". The pilot ATM, located in Alexandra township, aims to minimise the time spent in queues by patients on chronic medication. But was it really the first of its kind in Africa? Perhaps, though it certainly wasn’t the first innovative attempt to solve the problem of chronically ill patients spending long periods waiting for their medication. A few kilometres north of Alexandra, in Tshwane, a young man called Neo Hutiri had also been working on a solution for the same problem. Hutiri’s firm developed a digitised smart locker that sends patients a one-time pin. Similar to a vending machine, they punch in their mobile number and the pin to receive their medication. The idea emerged from Hutiri’s personal journey. "In 2014, I was diagnosed with TB [tuberculosis], and like millions of other South Africans I was collecting my medication from my local clinic. I was losing two to thr...

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