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First smart pill boxes arrive in Tanzania

9 July 2020
The first smart pill boxes for the ASCENT project have arrived in Tanzania.

A first shipment of 500 boxes – that will help TB patients with their treatment adherence – got delivered to the KNCV office in Dar es Salaam. The ASCENT team will customize the boxes, after which they will be distributed to the health care facilities that are participating in the innovative, Unitaid-funded ASCENT project.

In Tanzania, over 50 health care facilities in Arusha, Geita, Manyara and Mwanza are participating in the project. Patients either receive a box or are provided with access to one of the other digital adherence technologies (DATs) used in the project: medication sleeves (the 99DOTS solution) or video supported treatment.

The specially-designed box is used to store TB medication at home. Every time the patient opens the box, the embedded device sends a signal and automatically notifies the health care worker of the logged daily dose.

All DATs used by ASCENT empower the patients to take their daily medication at a time and place that suits them best. Instead of having to go to a health care facility for directly observed treatment. Additionally they provide real-time information to the TB doctor or nurse, helping to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for each individual patient and by enabling focused efforts on those patients that require extra support.

At this moment, these technologies are only used on a small scale in the international fight against TB. The ASCENT project is implemented in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Philippines, Ukraine and South Africa and it aims to eventually make DATs accessible to all TB patients worldwide.