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Mobile Technology To Save Lives Through Vaccination In Africa

10 Dec 2012Digital Society
6 minute read

Vodafone today announced two partnerships that will use mobile technology to increase childhood vaccination levels in sub-Saharan Africa. This will support the global goal to vaccinate an additional quarter of a billion children and avert four million deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2015.

The World Health Organisation has identified vaccinations as the single most cost-effective public health intervention after the provision of clean water supplies. However, more than one million children die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases and 22 million children worldwide remain unimmunised.

With access to mobile phones rapidly rising in the developing world, a significant opportunity exists for mobile technology to help healthcare providers save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives by increasing the take-up of vaccinations. Effective methods include alerting mothers to the availability of vaccinations by text message, enabling health workers to access health records and schedule appointments through their phones and helping health facilities in remote locations monitor stocks to ensure that vaccinations are available when mothers and children arrive.

Vodafone has therefore formed:

  1. A strategic partnership with the GAVI Alliance (“GAVI”) which, supported by the UK Government, helps 73 of the world’s poorest countries to obtain new and underused vaccines and strengthen their health system infrastructure; and
  2. A development partnership with global healthcare provider GSK, supported by Save the Children and commencing with a one year pilot with the Mozambique Ministry of Health.

The three-year partnership between Vodafone and GAVI will explore how health ministries in GAVI-supported countries in sub-Saharan Africa can use mobile technology solutions to improve their immunisation programmes. The Vodafone-GAVI partnership is the first private sector in-kind contribution through the GAVI Matching Fund, under which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government have agreed to match private sector contributions to GAVI. The UK Department for International Development (“DFID”) will match Vodafone’s contribution of technology and services with a $1.5 million cash contribution to GAVI. The fund has raised $52.4 million to date and aims to raise $260 million for immunisation by the end of 2015.

The Vodafone and GSK partnership will establish the effectiveness of mobile technology in increasing vaccination coverage by 5 -10% and will commence with a pilot in Mozambique. Save the Children will look to include its health sites in the pilot and will collaborate with Vodafone, GSK and the Mozambique Ministry of Health (“MMOH”) on training health workers and supporting the development and testing of the mobile solution. Vodafone’s role will include developing the technology, providing handsets to health workers and integrating the solution into the MMOH’s health IT infrastructure. GSK’s role will include providing industry expertise and evaluation advice. If successful, the pilot will form a basis on which to commercially scale the technology to 1,500 clinics across Mozambique and for Vodafone and GSK to extend their partnership to other developing countries.

Both partnerships will draw on Vodafone’s experience of developing commercial mobile health solutions in other countries. 5,000 clinics across Tanzania 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.

Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone, said: “Vodafone is committed to investing in mobile technologies that can transform healthcare in both developed and emerging markets. 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.”

Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said: “GAVI works in some of the most difficult to reach areas of the world. We’re committed to identifying viable innovations that can sustainably address the challenges we face in providing life-saving vaccines to all children, no matter where they live. Cutting-edge mobile technology has the potential to help us overcome some of our most difficult challenges in gauging stock levels, ensuring vaccines are stored safely and letting parents know when their children are due for a vaccine.”

Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development said: “One thousand new mobile broadband connections are made every minute in the developing world, which means we have a tremendous opportunity to transform lives in an easily accessible way. Britain is a proud partner in this innovative project from Vodafone and GAVI. Opening up healthcare to people through their mobile phones will increase the take-up of basic treatments that make a huge difference to people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said: “Innovative technologies – whether mobile devices, medicines or vaccines – are helping to transform global health. This new partnership combines GSK’s expertise, knowledge and resources with those of Vodafone to help deliver life-saving vaccines to tens of thousands more children in Mozambique. Our hope is that we will create a sustainable and scalable model which could ultimately be replicated to help improve people’s health and well-being across developing countries.”

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, said: This innovative pilot programme combining the power of Vodafone, GSK and Save the Children in Mozambique could help ensure the hardest to reach children get vital vaccinations, saving many lives. Immunising children has been a huge success in helping reduce child deaths in recent years but we know the children in remote areas are missing out, with 22 million around the world being left behind. Mobile technology, in the hands of front line health workers, could help close the gap.”

Notes to editor:

The UK Secretary of State for International Development and each of the CEOs quoted in this release were speakers at the Mobile for Good Summit hosted by the Vodafone Foundation and the London Business School in London on 10 December 2012. For further information please visit:

Further information on WHO global immunisation data here.

For further details of the GAVI Matching Fund:

For further details of Vodafone and GSK’s partnership:

About Vodafone

Vodafone is one of the world's largest mobile communications companies by revenue with approximately 407 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as of 30 September 2012. Vodafone currently has equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 50 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit

About GAVI

The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in developing countries. Since 2000, GAVI has financed the immunisation of an additional 370 million children and prevented more than 5.5 million premature deaths. Learn more at

About DFID

The Department for International Development leads the British Government’s fight against world poverty. DFID supports the work of the GAVI Alliance and has committed up to £50 million to matching donations from UK corporate companies to the GAVI Matching Fund. Find out more at

About GSK

GlaxoSmithKline is one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies and is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit

About Save the Children

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. For more information please visit:

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