Digital adherence technologies (DAT) are digital tools that can help tuberculosis (TB) patients to finish their treatment successfully. The Unitaid-funded ASCENT project studies the effectiveness of said technologies and provides them to selected health facilities in Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, the Philippines and Ukraine. A TB survivor named Netsanet, a 35-year-old mother of three treated at Legatafo Health Center Ethiopia, explained her experience on the use of DAT, more specifically the smart pillbox from EvriMed, for her treatment.
It took a long time for Netsanet to be diagnosed with TB. She was sick and experienced a loss of appetite, night sweats and felt extremely tired all the time. She visited holy water but could not get relief. When she visited a private clinic, she finally got clinically diagnosed with TB and got referred to Legetafo Health Center for her TB treatment. She was very sick and unable to walk to the facility. Luckily, she got support from her neighbors, who contributed 1000 birr to take her to the facility.
Netsanet explains her feelings: “At the beginning, I was very hopeless. I was advised to visit the facility on a daily bases to follow my treatment, which I could not do.” She said that at some point she felt like ‘this is the last day I can visit the facility’.
“While Sr Yeshi (TB focal person at Legatafo health center) counseled me about the treatment, she told me about the smart pillbox. A little hope ignited, and I started to feel like I had an opportunity to recover and live more years with my children. Sr Yeshi explained the smart pillbox in detail, how it works, how I can use and charge it. She gave me the smart pillbox with my medication inside. I took my intimate friend/smart pillbox to my home in May 2021,” said Netsanet.
“The smart box did a great favor for me,” Netsanet explains, “The box gave me an alarm every morning and I took my pills. I used to forget to take pills prescribed for me for the TB treatment and other diseases, like Typhoid. With smart pillbox alarm, it is impossible to forget your medication! The box is also safe to store my medication. With the help of smart pillbox, I was able to take all doses of my medication and complete my treatment. Now I am enjoying a healthy life with my kids. Many thanks to providers and the smart pillbox!”
Nethanet returned the smart pillbox with full package (container, module and charger) to Sr Yeshi after completing her treatment so other patients like her can use it too. She highly recommends the continued supply and use of smart pillbox for all in need like her.
The Unitaid funded and supported ASCENT project in Ethiopia is led by KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation together with The Aurum Institute and in partnership with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and PATH.