Vodafone is celebrating World Malaria Day today with the SMS for Life programme. This initiative helps save lives using everyday technology to improve the availability of anti-malarial drugs in remote areas in Tanzania.
The mosquito-borne disease causes nearly one million deaths in Africa each year, mostly among pregnant women and young children, and many people die because they simply lack quick access to vital medication. SMS for Life is a public and private initiative powered by Vodafone and led by the Medicines for Malaria Venture and supported by Novartis Foundation, the Tanzanian Ministry for Health and the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation which uses a stock control system that runs on text messaging and ensures that drug stocks are maintained.
The system, developed by Vodafone, sends automated SMS messages to healthcare staff at clinics in Tanzania, which prompt them to check the remaining stock of anti-malarial drugs each week. Using toll-free numbers, staff reply with an SMS to a central database system providing details of stock levels, and deliveries can be made before supplies run.
SMS for Life has been rolled out to over 5000 clinics which covers every public health facility in Tanzania and within 6 months, drug stocks were maintained, showing the potential of this technology to deliver social good through lateral thinking by helping to ensure supplies of life-saving drugs.