News has emerged this week that the global healthcare company, Glaxo SmithKline (GSK), are teaming up with mobile phone operator, Vodafone, to help improve the lives of children across the poorest countries of the world.
Both GSK and Vodafone have come together with the charity Save the Children, to create an innovative way to ensure that children in underdeveloped countries get the healthcare that they deserve.
The scheme aims to use mobile phones to send messages to parents regarding the availability of vaccinations and also to schedule future appointments. Though it may be a surprise, it is a fact that over half of Africa’s population own a mobile phone, and experts have concluded that this will be the easiest and most effective way to increase vaccination rates amongst children across the continent.
The project will initially run for one year in Mozambique, and the Mozambique Ministry of Health are hoping that the number of children being vaccinated from preventable health conditions will double, from five per cent to ten per cent within the year.
However, using modern technology to inform parents about their local healthcare clinics is not an entirely new phenomenon, and Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical company, offers an app, Vaxtext, which sends reminders to help parents keep track of their child's vaccination schedule.
Mobile phones are used in similar schemes around the world, including Tanzania, where a new project was launched this month to help improve the healthcare of pregnant mothers and their babies. The scheme is supported by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and allows expectant women and mothers with children up to four months old to send a simple text, free of charge, in return for information which covers all aspects of pregnancy and child care.
Even in the UK the NHS has been using mobile phones to inform patients about their appointments and test results for months. The service also informs citizens about other healthcare programmes, and gives advice about smoking, weight loss and travel vaccines.
The success of the scheme will not be determined until the end of next year, but what’s clear is that the world really is embracing the magnificent things that technology can offer. The future for healthcare across the globe is changing, surely for the better.