Mobile Phones to Save Lives in Mozambique

    The Department of Health in Mozambique has teamed up with the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership for immunisation, to launch a pilot project in about 100 clinics in early 2013 where health workers will test the effectiveness and cost benefits of using mobile phones to communicate with patients.

    The yearlong three-million-dollar pilot project has been co-financed by British telecommunications giant Vodafone and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. At the end of the trial, vaccination levels in Mozambique should improve by five to 10 percent, the donors say.

    “One thousand new mobile broadband connections are made every minute in the developing world, which means we have a tremendous opportunity to transform lives in an easily accessible way,” explains U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening.

    Africa is the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market and the second largest after Asia, according to Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, a global industry body. There are about 700 million mobile connections on the continent and the number of mobile phone users increased by nearly 20 percent every year over the last five years.

    Mozambique’s health workers will receive smartphones with software to access records and schedule appointments and help clinics in remote locations monitor stocks to make sure vaccines are available when mothers arrive with their children.

    “Mobile technology will help us identify children who until now have been missed and make sure they get a full set of vaccinations,” GAVI CEO Seth Berkley tells IPS. The ability to notify and remind mothers of vaccination appointments is expected to make a big dent in high drop-off rates, where a child receives only one out of two or three necessary injections to make a vaccine effective, he says.

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