Smartphone maker Voadaphone and the ‘big pharma’ company GSK have announced that they are to work together to help vaccinate more children against common infectious diseases in Africa.
According to a joint press release, the two companies will begin a one-year pilot in Mozambique to see whether mobile technology solutions can help encourage mothers to take up vaccination services. The mobile devices will also be used to support health workers, and enable better management of vaccine stock. The target is to raise vaccinations by 5-10%.
The scheme will work by mothers and caregivers registering by SMS and then being alerted by the SMS service about the availability of vaccinations. Mobile services can also be used to make appointment. Health workers will also be given smartphones with software that allows them to contact mothers, view and record vaccination histories, schedule vaccinations and report on follow-up visits.
Vittorio Colao, group chief executive of Vodafone, told The Daily Telegraph that: “If you improve the society you operate in, you also improve the business you operate in it. By doing this we become one of the pillars of society working. Like Gutenberg – printing is an infrastructure, and mobile is another infrastructure. Sometimes we think of mobiles just as smartphones and YouTube and having fun, but it’s really about improving living conditions, reducing costs and saving time and energy. We need to be a market and we need to be a perceived utility.”
According to Ventures, the scheme is supported by UNICEF and Save the Children as a means to make vaccines much more accessible in Africa.