A battle with TB inspired his smart medicine dispenser, now it’s won Africa’s top engineering prize

After being diagnosed with tuberculosis in January 2014, Neo Hutiri needed medicines monthly in order to treat it. Every visit meant spending up to three-and-a-half hours in a queue waiting for his turn at the hospital pharmacy in Johannesburg. “Most of the other patients that waited along with me had to miss work just to collect their medicine,” he says.

The notorious queues propelled Hutiri, an electrical engineer, to come up with the Pelebox Smart Locker, a digital dispenser installed in hospitals and stocked with routine medicines by healthcare workers. In comparison, Pelebox dispenses medicines within just 36 seconds.

Patients due to pick up prescriptions use a one-time personal identification number (PIN) sent to their phones ahead of time to access their locker of medicines. The smart lockers are temperature-controlled and can serve between 70 and 300 patients.

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