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Zimbabwean pharmacy using tech to deliver medicines

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HARARE – Zimbabweans in the Diaspora can now purchase medicines online for delivery back home

It is a story that many Zimbabweans living abroad are familiar with; an urgent call from a loved one back home in desperate need of essential medicine.

The problem is that, for those in the Diaspora, there has been no way to easily buy that medication for family back home, until now. One Zimbabwean company has developed a platform that will allow users to buy affordable medicines and other related productions online, and have these delivered to their loved ones.

MedOrange is an online pharmacy store powered by Contitouch Technologies to provide access to affordable medicines, pharmaceutical care, health, and beauty products through online platforms.

MedOrange Pharmacies managing director Diana Hore says: “Our world-class online store is built for such a time as this, offering a full range of pharmaceutical and allied services at highly competitive prices. This is also supported by a robust door-to-door delivery service which offers unmatched convenience to our diverse customers across the country’’.

There is data to show why this technology has become necessary.

Each year, Zimbabweans send home US$1 billion in remittances, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reports. Of these inflows, according to research, approximately 30 percent is used to pay for health care services. However, it has been difficult to pay for and access medication efficiently, with middlemen charging exorbitant fees and commissions to buy and deliver medicines. By using technology, the need for “runners” is eliminated.

“In developing this platform, we spent a significant amount of time talking to people, both in Zimbabwe and in the Diaspora, to understand their needs. What they want is a transparent, efficient, and affordable way of paying for medication for their family and friends in Zimbabwe,” Hore says.

The platform will rely on MedOrange’s network of pharmacies to provide seamless service from the purchase of medicines, via the company’s website, to a delivery service. The new online store adds to the existing range of MedOrange retail stores and helps in the shift to online shopping, which has evolved in Zimbabwe over the last year. Covid-19 protocols have been a key driver in accelerating the growth of tech businesses.

Data shows that the global online pharmacy market is predicted to grow to over US$131 billion by 2025 at an annual growth rate of over 20 percent in revenue. The industry is heading towards unprecedented growth in both developed countries’ developing economies, and Zimbabwe will not be left behind.

While the demand for self-health care has grown, there has not been enough platforms that allow easy online access and delivery. This has left many, both in Zimbabwe and abroad, at the mercy of “runners” who charge a commission, Hore notes.

“The MedOrange platform eliminates third parties in the ecosystem and provides an efficient and direct bridge between the pharmacy and the end-user,” she says. The MedOrange online shop provides delivery services to all major towns and cities in Zimbabwe.

The company has plugged into payment platforms such as EcoCash, local banking, Visa, and Mastercard, which allows users at home and outside the country options.

“We believe our platform will continue to make a huge difference in the shift to online, fighting against Covid-19 and making medicines accessible to the under-serviced areas,” Hore adds.