Tanzania: A success story in the fight against malaria

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To optimize the management of anti-malaria drug stocks, the Tanzanian government, in partnership with IBM, Novartis, Vodafone, RBM, established an innovative project in 2009. The essence of the project was to avoid anti-malaria drug stock-outs in health facilities by informing providers about the level of drug stocks in health centers. April 25, Roll Back Malaria announced the results of the successful initiative, called “SMS for Life”, to mark the World Malaria Day.

On the occasion of the World Malaria Day, April 25, Roll Back Malaria published the results of a simple but effective project it launched in 2009 to improve the management of antimalarial drug stocks in hospitals in Tanzania, through SMS alerts.

The initiative, called “SMS for Life,” was experimented in three districts. It encouraged the management of drug stocks at health centers through text messaging.

The system, set up by the Tanzanian government in collaboration with Novartis, Vodafone, IBM, RBM (Roll Back Malaria), is simple.

An SMS is sent on weekly basis to health facilities asking them to communicate their levels of antimalarial drug stocks. The idea was to avoid stock-outs while saving money.

Encouraging results

According to experts from RBM, from the first weeks, the 47 health facilities in one of the three districts had its entire stock of antimalarial drugs needed to treat patients.

And the rampant shortages among the health facilities showed a dramatic decline during the five experimental months. On average, the program is believed to have cut the risk of antimalarial stock-outs by three, while saving hundreds of lives.

In a country where malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is endemic, mainly due to the difficulty associated with the treatment of patient populations, “SMS for Life” offers a formidable lease of life.

After limiting the experiment to only five districts of the country, the Tanzanian government is considering an extension of the program throughout the country. The government may also consider extending it to other drugs.

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