Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile operator, has launched a new service that enables its subscribers to access medical advice from their phones. The new service is called Daktari 1525 which refers to the “1525” code which users dial to access the new service. It offers information on first aid, proper use of medication, home remedies and natural cures among other areas. Users can also speak with a qualified medical professional through the service. The 24-hour a day service is charged at KES 20 (US$0.22) per minute and will be marketed to Safaricom’s 18 million customers. Local media coverage described it as the first such service in the country and also of the region.
The company has invested KES 15 million to date in Daktari 1525 which covers network infrastructure, call centre facilities and marketing. The service is a partnership between the operator and Call-a-Doc, the company which supplies the medical professionals who handle user calls. The intiatitive is supported by the Kenyan government, an indication of its high hopes the new service might offer cost savings by reducing hospital attendance in a country where the average doctor attends to 10,000 patients.