SARPAM Using ODK in Eight Countries to Track Drug Availability

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Adi Eyal and his colleagues are using ODK Collect and a custom backend in eight African countries (South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and DRC) to collect information on the availability and quality of medications. They have around 180 field workers who are using cheap Vodafone 858 Android phones to collect quantitative information, as well as photos and audio interviews.

Map of countries in Southern Africa with markers for hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other

The data is being used for the Tendai Project, which according to Daniel Molokele of SARPAM, is “a practical intervention designed to ease the burden of the people by monitoring the situation at community level and disseminating information. The project aims to raise awareness of the challenges communities face in accessing essential medicines, provider pharmaceutical marketplace information through a regional info hub and contribute to improving access to medicines in the Southern African Development Community.”

Adi explains that, _“the first step is to collect evidence of systemic failings. It is easy to dismiss a stock-out, sub-standard medicine or poor service delivery as an exceptional event which doesn’t deserve further action. With a project such as Tendai, evidence of systemic failings can be gathered nationally and regionally. Armed with data civil society is able to engage with governments to identify the cause of these failings and suggest solutions. Researchers too may use this information to inform policy.</p>

This isn’t the end of the road. Once policy change has occurred, Tendai can be used to monitor the effectiveness of that intervention. For instance, large scale stock-outs of ciprofloxacin may indicate a problematic supply chain. Once a strategy is implemented to correct the problem, civil society, through Tendai can evaluate whether this solution has indeed resulted in a reduction in stock-outs.

This is of course a simplistic example but there is a lot of value in understanding the nature of a problem before attempting to take action to correct it. Specifically with Tendai, we are hoping to encourage increased collaboration between governments and civil society to improve public health systems.”</em>

Browse all the data the project has collected at