Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Monday, 10 December 2012

GSK, Vodafone Partners On African Vaccine Programme

World's leading mobile communications company, Vodafone is harnessing innovative mobile technology by partnering with GlaxoSmithKline to help vaccinate more children against common infectious diseases in Africa.

The initial focus of the new partnership will be a one-year pilot vaccination project in Mozambique, supported by Save the Children and run in collaboration with the Mozambique Ministry of Health. If successful, the project will create a model that can be replicated throughout Mozambique and then scaled across Africa to reach thousands more children with life-saving vaccination.

“This project aims to establish if mobile technology solutions could increase the proportion of children covered by vaccination in Mozambique by an additional 5-10% through helping to encourage mothers to take up vaccination services, support health workers, improve record keeping, and enable better management of vaccine stock,” a statement released by the company said.

Despite major advances in the funding and availability of vaccines worldwide, it is estimated that up to a fifth of children worldwide still do not receive basic vaccines. The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa offers an opportunity to create innovative and cost-effective ways to address barriers to universal vaccination.

According to CEO of GSK, Andrew Witty, said, "Innovative technologies - whether mobile devices, medicines or vaccines - are helping to transform global health. Organisations such as UNICEF and GAVI have played a key role in making vaccines much more accessible in Africa but barriers still exist which stop children from benefitting from basic immunisation.”
“This new partnership combines GSK's expertise, knowledge and resources with those of Vodafone with the potential to deliver life-saving vaccines to tens of thousands more children in Mozambique. Our hope is that together we will create a sustainable and scalable model which could ultimately be replicated to help more children live healthy lives across developing countries."

Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone, also collaborated that “These partnerships have the potential to save millions of children's lives in some of the world's poorest countries and we are delighted to support this critically important endeavour."
The pilot will use mobile technology to address barriers to increased take-up of vaccines in Mozambique in three key ways: 
  • Mothers and caregivers will be registered on a Mozambique Ministry of Health database and alerted by SMS to the availability and importance of lifesaving vaccinations against common childhood diseases. Mothers will be able to schedule vaccination appointments by SMS and receive notifications of past and future vaccinations to ensure children complete the full schedule and become fully immunised.
  • Health workers will be provided withsmartphones with software allowing them to contact mothers, view and record vaccination histories, schedule vaccinations and report on follow-up visits.
  • Healthcare facilities will be prompted to regularly report on crucial vaccination stock levels by SMS. This will enable critical supply chain management and the availability of vaccines when and where they are needed, particularly in rural areas.
The pilot will include up to 100 clinics and will be independently tested to prove its impact, effectiveness and cost benefits. To ensure open access, the platform will be available to caregivers across any mobile network and can be used to increase take-up of any selected vaccine.

Vodafone is one of the world's largest mobile communications companies. It has experience of developing commercial mobile health solutions in other African countries: 5,000 clinics across Tanzania currently use Vodafone's mobile stock management service to track malaria treatments and more than 1,800 remote community healthcare workers in South Africa are using a mobile solution to access and update patient records. 

On the other hand, GSK a global healthcare company with a long history in the developing world, have had its vaccines included in immunisation campaigns in 173 countries worldwide. Of the 1.1 billion vaccine doses delivered in 2011, 870 million doses (more than 80%), were shipped for use in developing countries.

Today's announcement adds to GSK initiatives aimed at using mobile technology to improve healthcare in Africa,

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