SMS for Life

Good supply chain management is key to ensuring that antimalarials recommended in national malaria treatment policies are actually available at point-of-care. Poorly resourced supply chains, inappropriate stock management practices, and inadequate lead-time planning can all contribute to stock-outs of medicine.

The SMS for Life approach uses widely available SMS technology to record antimalarial stock levels at point-of-care. Information is collated in a central database and used to display countrywide stock availability by district and health facility. Facilities at risk of stock-out can then be replenished with needed supplies. Following a Tanzanian pilot in 2009 supported by Novartis and other implementing partners, SMS for Life was scaled up in 2011 to cover all 133 districts in the country with technical and financial support from MMV, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and a number of other partners. Today the national programme is led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Leveraging the ubiquity of SMS for Life in Tanzania, researchers at Swiss Tropical PH (STPH) have partnered with MMV and Novartis to explore how this communication platform may be further utilized.  The specific focus of this research is to reinforce proper case management, through frequent SMS communication from the malaria control programme to frontline health workers.

Access in Action

  • In Kenya, beyond the use of SMS for Life to better manage stock levels, this technology was evaluated for its utility in gathering malaria case-management indicators, including number of fever cases evaluated, the use of rapid diagnostic tests and the appropriate treatment of malaria.  Read the final evaluation of the Kenyan SMS pilot.
  • In 2015, the STPH-led research platform successfully deployed the pilot use of SMS for case-management reminders to healthworkers. The final evaluation assessing the impact of this intervention in improving malaria outcomes will be published in late 2016.

Partners

Google Inc., Vodafone Group PLC, IBM, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Roll Back Malaria Partnership,  Population Services International (PSI), Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Vodafone, University of Oxford (KEMRI)

Updated November 2016