Posted by News Express | 15 July 2014 | 3,437 times
In a bid to reduce the glaring rates of child and maternal deaths annually estimated at 6.6 million and 260,000 respectively, Sub-Saharan African states are set to launch a mobile phone text messaging service to educate masses on better health care and nutrition.
The initiative dubbed pan-African mHealth Initiative (PAMI) is supported by GSMA and is in line with United Nation’s Every Women Every Child Global Strategy and the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact. The proponents of the project aim to leverage on the high mobile phone penetration to reach out on the targeted audience to ultimately improve health. As a result, GSMA has partnered with the global digital security service provider Gemalto to achieve this goal. According to statistics from GSMA, Africa’s mobile phone penetration in 2013 was at over 80 percent with Sub-Saharan Africa leading the pack with its unique mobile subscriber base growing by 18 per cent annually over the last five years, making it the fastest growing region globally.
The impressive mobile penetration figures are what has prompted GSMA and Gemalto to leverage on the existing Telco infrastructures and in order to improve child and maternal health care. Gemalto will lead the initiative with its expertise in ICT. According to GSMA, PAMI brings together stakeholders from the mobile and health industries, as well as from the public sector. The project will leverage a wide range of communications products, solutions and infrastructures to deliver sustainable and effective mHealth support that meets the needs of over 15 million pregnant women and mothers with children under five years old.
United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon in an earlier interview while launching the United Nations Every Women Every Child Global Strategy and the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact explained: “Research has conclusively demonstrated that the health of women and children is the cornerstone of public health. Healthy women and children create healthy societies. Healthy societies, in turn are the foundation upon which nations build successful economies and create prosperity for their people which is essential to political stability and social harmony.”
The first phase of the initiative will be launched across seven countries (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia) in September 2014, extending to a further four (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania) in early 2015.
Gemalto will help bring mHealth and nutrition services to the masses dynamically through its advanced SmartMessage interactive messaging solution, leveraging its existing relationships with mobile operators across the region. The aim is to simplify the relationships between patients and health stakeholders to deliver targeted nutritional and health advice via mobile phones.
“As the world is becoming ever more digital and wireless, we are thrilled to see our solutions being used to support a noble social cause with this initiative,” commented Philippe Vallée, Chief Operating Officer at Gemalto. “There can surely be no clearer illustration of the potential of mobile solutions to fundamentally change the expectations and outcomes of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.”
World Health Organisation report on trends in maternal mortality between 1990 and 2013 shows that sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 6,800 (91 per cent) of the estimated 7,500 maternal deaths on the continent and this also emphasize the area of focus of the project. While global maternal deaths were cut almost by half between 1990 and 2010, Kenya’s maternal mortality ratio declined only slightly during the same period, going from 400 per 100,000 births in 1990 to 360 per 100,000 births in 2010. This initiative is part of other wider efforts aimed at improving maternal and infant health.
According to GSMA, the success of the project is intertwined with the millennium development goals which aims to save the lives of over 16 million women and children, preventing 33 million unwanted pregnancies, ending stunting in 88 million children and protecting 120 million children from pneumonia.
•Source: African Media Agency (AMA).
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