IBM, Novartis, Vodafone launch SMS For Life

By Brian Dolan

Earlier this month at the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit, Vodafone Group CEO Vittoro Colao announced that the carrier was working with pharmaceutical company Novartis on a program called SMS For Life in Tanzania. Vodafone, Novartis and their partner IBM announced the program officially today.

As Colao noted, the program covers some 135 villages (more than 1 million people) in Tanzania after going live just this past September. SMS For Life allows health workers to keep track of and send reports on supply and demand for medications, especially anti-malarial drugs. Colao said the system already has a 97 percent compliance rate with workers and it is a “simple application which has an incredible impact in terms of saving lives.”

"During the first few weeks of the pilot, the number of health facilities with stock-outs in one district alone, was reduced by over 75 percent. The early success of the SMS for Life pilot project has the Tanzanian authorities interested in implementing the solution across the rest of the country. Tanzania has around 5,000 clinics, hospitals and dispensaries, but at any one time, as many as half could potentially be out of stock of anti-malarial drugs," the release stated.

The companies said the program could be rolled out nationwide in Tanzania and it already has some interest from other countries in Africa.

For more, read this press release