Impact Journalism Day by Sparknews: A better society - No. 26

Better communal health

Thanks to generous donations, the help of unpaid volunteers and community members who collect and donate their unused drugs, Passi residents have access to free medication.
Thanks to generous donations, the help of unpaid volunteers and community members who collect and donate their unused drugs, Passi residents have access to free medication.PHOTO: LE SOLEIL

PASSI (Senegal) • In this Senegalese village, 750 residents have signed up for JokkoSante's healthcare exchange. Medication has since been made readily accessible through the implementation of a communal pharmacy, where members donate their leftover medication, which is then redistributed to those in need. As a result, Passi's healthcare centre has noted a marked increase in patients coming in for regular checkups. This success has led to JokkoSante being ranked 6th most innovative out of 5,100 projects in the 2015 African Entrepreneurship Awards.

One morning, Ousmane Diallo heads to the healthcare centre's communal pharmacy. "I came twice last year to sign up, but I was turned away each time because they had run out of membership forms. Today, I'm here to donate," he says. Those in pressing need will now have access to his medication. "People who were sick donate their leftover medication and in return they receive points, which are stored on their mobile phone. They can then exchange these points for medication in the future," says pharmacy manager Diama Ndiave.

Members of the communal pharmacy speak highly of its service.

Lamine Sylla says: "Before, when a doctor or a nurse handed me a prescription, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to afford it. I would have to make a choice between getting the medication and putting food on the table." Now, the communal pharmacy has ended his struggle.

Fatou Diop praises the initiative, saying: "I suffer from hypertension, and was spending at least 8,000 CFA francs (S$18) per month. Since the setting up of the communal pharmacy I buy all my medication with my points."

 

The nurses and administrative staff of Passi's healthcare centre have also noticed a marked increase in patients coming in for regular checkups. Ndeye Marieme Diallo, a manager at JokkoSante, sees a strong correlation between the success of the pharmacy and the increase in checkups.

Because of this success, Adama Kane, the founder of the initiative, believes JokkoSante can bring an end to the dangerous and prolific practice of self-medicating.

Thanks to generous donations, the help of unpaid volunteers and community members who collect and donate their unused medication, many Passi residents now have access to free medication.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'Better communal health'. Print Edition | Subscribe