GSK, Vodafone to help increase childhood vaccination in Mozambique
Global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has formed a partnership with Vodafone, one of the world's largest mobile communications companies, to harness innovative mobile technology to help vaccinate more children against common infectious diseases in Africa.
Despite major advances in the funding and availability of vaccines worldwide, it is estimated that up to a fifth of children worldwide still do not receive basic vaccines. The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa offers an opportunity to create innovative and cost-effective ways to address barriers to universal vaccination.
The initial focus of the new partnership will be a one-year pilot vaccination project in Mozambique, supported by Save the Children and run in collaboration with the Mozambique Ministry of Health. This project aims to establish whether or not mobile technology solutions could increase the proportion of children covered by vaccination in Mozambique by an additional 5-10% through helping to encourage mothers to take up vaccination services, support health workers, improve record keeping and enable better management of vaccine stock.
If successful, the project will create a model that can be replicated throughout Mozambique and then scaled across Africa to reach thousands more children with life-saving vaccination.
"Innovative technologies—whether mobile devices, medicines or vaccines—are helping to transform global health,” said Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK. “Organizations such as UNICEF and GAVI have played a key role in making vaccines much more accessible in Africa but barriers still exist which stop children from benefitting from basic immunization. This new partnership combines GSK's expertise, knowledge and resources with those of Vodafone with the potential to deliver life-saving vaccines to tens of thousands more children in Mozambique. Our hope is that together we will create a sustainable and scalable model which could ultimately be replicated to help more children live healthy lives across developing countries."
The pilot will use mobile technology to address barriers to increased take-up of vaccines in Mozambique in three key ways:
- Mothers and caregivers will be registered on a Mozambique Ministry of Health database and alerted by SMS message to the availability and importance of lifesaving vaccinations against common childhood diseases. Mothers will be able to schedule vaccination appointments by SMS and receive notifications of past and future vaccinations to ensure children complete the full schedule and become fully immunized.
- Health workers will be provided with smart phones with software allowing them to contact mothers, view and record vaccination histories, schedule vaccinations and report on follow-up visits.
- Healthcare facilities will be prompted to regularly report on crucial vaccination stock levels by SMS. This will enable critical supply chain management and the availability of vaccines when and where they are needed, particularly in rural areas.
The pilot will include up to 100 clinics and will be independently tested to prove its impact, effectiveness and cost benefits. To ensure open access, the platform will be available to caregivers across any mobile network and can be used to increase take-up of any selected vaccine.