World tuberculosis day: a box that beeps to remind you about your daily dosage

The box made of cardboard, contains five slots each, which has a month-long supply of medicines so patients don’t have to visit the nearest health post every day.

mumbai Updated: Mar 24, 2018 00:57 IST
Aayushi Pratap
Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
mumbai,MDR,health
Health officials said the box doesn’t have ‘TB’ written on it, to ensure that no one learns about the patient’s infection status, given the social stigma.(HT photo)

For the last five months, 26-year-old Ibrahim, a resident of Dharavi, has not missed his tuberculosis (TB) medicines even for a day. His medicine box – Medication Event and Monitor Reminder (MERM) rings at 1pm every day to remind him to take his pills.

The box made of cardboard, contains five slots each, which has his month-long supply of medicines so he does not have to visit the nearest health post daily for multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB.

When he opens the box, the civic heath officials, sitting far away, are immediately notified on their phones, that Ibrahim has taken his medicines for the day.

Since the last five months, Ibrahim, along with other 88 MDR TB patients are part of a unique pilot project, in the G-North ward, where they were given electronic medicine boxes each with International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers and cards, just like the ones in mobile phones.

The box also has rechargeable batteries and three colour coded lights – green, yellow and red.

The green light buzzes along with the alarm to remind the patient about the medicines. The yellow light blinks, along with the ‘refill alarm’, which rings five days before the course is about to get over. The red light reminds the patient that the battery of the box is about to die.

“The alarm rings and the green light blinks for 30 minutes until the patient opens the box and takes the medicine,” said Dr Reena Raul, district TB officer, G-North ward.

“All events with respect to the box are captured, which are then reported to our health officials’ phones,” she said.

Prior to being enrolled in this project, Ibrahim had to wait for 30 to 45 minutes at the nearest health post, where he could also be transmitting the infection to other people.

Health officials said the box doesn’t have ‘TB’ written on it, to ensure that no one learns about the patient’s infection status, given the social stigma.

“All DOTS centres are at health posts, where there are other patients – children, women, who are present and could get infected. This approach ensures that TB patients don’t intermingle with other patients,” Dr Raul said.

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 00:56 IST