Innovative use of mobile technology goes national on World Malaria Day to improve access to antimalarials.
In commemoration of World Malaria Day 2011 (25 April), organizations in an innovative public-private initiative announce the nationwide roll-out of a unique malaria treatment access initiative, "SMS for Life", across the United Republic of Tanzania. The roll-out follows a successful pilot project where mobile and electronic mapping technology was used to track the stock levels of anti-malarial drugs at health facilities to manage supplies of these essential treatments.
Launched in 2009, the “SMS for Life” pilot ran across three districts in Tanzania, ensuring access to essential malaria treatments for 888,000 people. 99% of health facilities involved avoided stock-outs of the artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), one of the main anti-malarial medicines.1 “SMS for Life” will now be deployed across 5,000 health facilities in 131 districts in Tanzania, covering a population of over 40 million.3
Under the auspice of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, this roll-out is led by Novartis and supported by Vodacom, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, all under the umbrella of the global Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
Malaria kills about 800,000 people each year, the vast majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is a leading cause of death for children under five, claiming the life of a child every 45 seconds.2 Although malaria is preventable and treatable, life-saving medicines do not always reach the patients who need them, particularly those living in remote areas. Stock-outs are a major hurdle in the maintenance of access to essential malaria treatments.
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- Barrington J, Wereko-Brobby O, Ward P, Mwafongo W, Kungulwe S. SMS for Life: a pilot project to improve anti-malarial drug supply management in rural Tanzania using standard technology. Malar J 2010; 9:298.
- WHO World Malaria Report 2010. Available at: http://www.who.int/malaria/en/ (accessed January 2011).
- World Bank. Available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/tanzania (accessed April 2011).