Vodafone Group created two partnerships that will use mobile technology to support childhood vaccination in sub-Saharan Africa.
The mobile operator is working with the Gavi Alliance, a public-private partnership that backs immunisation programmes, and drugs giant GSK.
Services envisaged include SMS alerts to mothers about the availability of vaccinations; enabling health workers to use their mobile devices for accessing health records and making appointments; and monitoring health facilities in remote locations to ensure they have adequate drug stocks.
Vodafone’s three-year deal with the Gavi Alliance will look at how governments in sub-Saharan Africa can use mobile technology to improve immunisation programmes. The UK government will match Vodafone’s contribution of technology and services with a US$1.5 million cash contribution to the alliance.
The mobile operator’s partnership with GSK will start with a pilot in Mozambique. Vodafone says the aim is to increase vaccination coverage by between five and ten percent. UK charity Save the Children aims to include its health sites in the pilot.
As well developing the technology for the pilot, the operator will provide handsets to health workers and integrate the solution into the Mozambique Ministry of Health’s IT infrastructure.
If successful, the pilot will be the basis to commercially scale the technology to 1,500 clinics across the country. Vodafone and GSK might also extend their partnership to other countries.
Vodafone has a background in providing commercial mobile health solutions, for instance in Tanzania where the operator offers a stock management service for tracking malaria drugs. In South Africa, it runs a mobile data service for 1,000 health workers in remote locations.
The Gavi Alliance is backed by governments as well as private donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.