The GSMA has launched its Mobile for Development mHealth programme, an inter-industry partnership to connect mobile and health industries to reach the millions of pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The new cross-ecosystem partnership is designed to provide a range of mHealth services to women and children, with a particular focus on nutrition.
Initial launch partners for the initiative include Gemalto, Hello Doctor, Lifesaver, Mobenzi, Mobilium, MTN, Omega Diagnostics and Samsung.
This programme could have far-reaching impact. According to GSMA Intelligence, there is a total annual, addressable market of 15.5 million pregnant women and mothers with children under five years of age.
‘This new mobile ecosystem partnership, developed by the GSMA, is committed to connecting the mobile and health industries to develop commercially sustainable mHealth services that meet public health needs,’ said Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. ‘The companies in this partnership are working to deliver the objectives of the United Nations Every Women Every Child Global Strategy, as well as the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact, in the areas of nutrition and maternal and child health. We call on mobile ecosystem players, health providers, governments, NGOs, civil society and others to work with us to launch life-saving mobile health services.’
The partners will jointly launch services in seven countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia – from September 2014.
Phase two, which commences in 2015, will incorporate additional partners and services and will address four more countries: Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Collectively, the partnership will reduce barriers to handset ownership and connectivity for consumers and health workers by committing to offer discounted Samsung handsets and tablets to consumers and health workers across Africa; Provide access to the Samsung ecosystem (e.g. music, video and other value-added services) to be used as an incentive to drive health usage; Pre-embed a Smart Health application that provides a range of professional applications, information and services on 80 million Samsung handsets; and leverage existing and new MTN SIMs to allow free access to health content, health registration and data collection via the Smart Health application.
It will also provide simplified access to MTN mobile money, advertising and billing capabilities; and make innovative diagnostics like the Omega Diagnostics Visitect HIV CD4 point of care solution more affordable and accessible via mobile integration.
Through these commitments, the partners aim to simplify the relationships between mobile and health stakeholders, while maximising the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology and its capabilities for health providers and, ultimately, for patients. Health content, patient registration, data collection and critical diagnostics will increase the access to health care for vulnerable women and children across Africa, while providing the delivery mechanism for mHealth services that are commercially sustainable and scalable.
‘This partnership heralds a new era in the delivery of health care in Sub-Saharan Africa, where currently access to even the most basic of health services remains the worst in the world. MTN is therefore proud to be part of this collaborative effort, which will deliver solutions that harnesses the expertise of some of the leading companies in the world, to improve access to health care for many of our customers across the seven launch countries,’ said MTN Group Chief Commercial Officer, Pieter Verkade.
‘Current lab based static diagnostics tools are unable to meet growing patients’ needs as countries step up their HIV treatment programs in conjunction with the decentralisation of CD4 testing. Multi-layer partnerships for mHealth smartphone applications are poised to become an essential foundation in the bridge to augment the continuum of care to the neediest patients, whilst also providing management information and real time surveillance data,’ said Andrew Shepherd, Founder and Managing Director, Omega Diagnostics Ltd.
‘Healthcare in Africa has benefited greatly from advancements in mobile technology. Simultaneously, the healthcare industry is moving towards a delivery model that is more patient-centered, value-based and accessible in even remote environments. In this regard, Samsung is perfectly positioned to add value to this digital evolution in healthcare, as our devices are both at the cutting edge of innovation and available widely across the continent. These capabilities provide the much needed healthcare support in Africa, ensuring that we are aligned with the Millennium Development Goals as set by the United Nations,’ said Thabiet Allie, Head of Content and Services at Samsung Electronics Africa.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo
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