Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

GSMA launches mobile health initiative in sub-Saharan Africa

Iain Morris
July 2, 2014
Telecoms group the GSM Association (GSMA) has launched a new initiative aimed at providing a range of mobile health services to women and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

The program has a particular focus on nutrition and involves partners from across the entire mobile health ecosystem, including hardware player Gemalto (Amsterdam, Netherlands), mobile operator MTN (Johannesburg, South Africa) and devices giant Samsung (Seoul, South Korea) – to name just a few.

The partners aim to reduce barriers to device ownership and connectivity for consumers and health workers and say they will start by offering a range of discounts on products and services they provide.

Samsung is to offer discounted handsets and tablets to consumers workers across Africa, besides providing access to the Samsung ecosystem as an incentive to drive health usage.

It will also pre-embed a Smart Health application on 80 million Samsung handsets.

Meanwhile, MTN will leverage existing and new SIMs to allow free access to health content, health registration and data collection via the Smart Health application.

The GSMA says the initiative will launch in seven countries – Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia – from September 2014.

In 2015, it expects to unveil additional partners and services and to address another four countries, those being Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

The GSMA says the program could have a far-reaching impact, noting there is a total annual, addressable market of 15.5 million pregnant women and mothers with children of less than five years of age in the region.

“This new mobile ecosystem partnership, developed by the GSMA, is committed to connecting the mobile and health industries to develop commercially sustainable mobile health services that meet public health needs,” said Tom Phillips, the GSMA’s chief regulatory officer. “The companies in this partnership are working to deliver the objectives of the United Nations Every Women Every Child Global Strategy, as well as the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact, in the areas of nutrition and maternal and child health.”

“We call on mobile ecosystem players, health providers, governments, NGOs, civil society and others to work with us to launch life-saving mobile health services,” he added.
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