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GSMA launches African m-health drive

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Part of the m-health service includes the Smart Health app, which will be pre-installed on new Samsung devices.
Part of the m-health service includes the Smart Health app, which will be pre-installed on new Samsung devices.

The GSM Association (GSMA) aims to tap into Africa's high cellphone penetration by introducing its mobile health (m-health) programme in an ecosystem partnership geared to provide services to people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The initiative brings together launch partners including MTN, Samsung, Mobilium, Gemalto, Hello Doctor, Lifesaver, Mobenzi and Omega Diagnostics to harness the companies' different expertise in order to create an integrated mobile ecosystem partnership.

Dr Craig Friedrichs, director of health at the GSMA, says the partnership will integrate the functions and capabilities of all the companies on board - some of which are in manufacturing, while others deal with application development.

Friedrichs adds that the move aims to facilitate African countries in reaching some of the United Nation's (UN's) millennium development goals including reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases. "With only 549 days remaining before the millennium development goal deadlines, the role of the private sector and public-private partnerships has become ever more important," he says.

He notes that the launch of the programme is a call to action for health, development and mobility organisations to come on board the partnership in a bid to develop the m-health solutions.

Smart Health

UK-based mobile strategy company Mobilium Global had earlier this year announced plans to launch its Smart Health application, promoting health and wellness among African users. The application will be one of the solutions offered as part of the new ecosystem announced by the GSMA.

The app - which will be available for download on the Android App Store and will come pre-installed on new Samsung smartphones later this year - allows users to access a medical information database, a peer-to-peer communication platform between consumers and health workers, health news and more functions which will be built in over time.

Thabiet Allie, head of content and services at Samsung Electronics Africa, says the company will ensure it capitalises on its large distribution network and marketing capacity.

Tom Phillips, chief regulatory officer for the GSMA says the ecosystem partnership aims to "develop commercially sustainable m-health services that meet public health needs". The initial focus will be on providing m-health services to women and children on the continent, with a focus on nutrition across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The partners will launch services in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, SA, Uganda and Zambia from September and a second phase - beginning next year - will target east African nations.

Key aims

The GSMA says the partnership will "reduce barriers to handset ownership and connectivity for consumers and health workers" by committing to the following targets:

* Offer discounted Samsung handsets and tablets to consumers and health workers across Africa
* Provide access to the Samsung ecosystem (including music, video and other value-added services)
* Pre-embed the Smart Health application that provides a range of professional applications, information and services on 80 million Samsung handsets
* Leverage existing and new MTN SIM cards to allow free access to health content, health registration and data collection using the Smart Health application
* Provide simplified access to MTN mobile money, advertising and billing capabilities
* Make diagnostics like the Omega Diagnostics VisitectHIV CD4 point of care solution more affordable and accessible via mobile integration

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13 Aug
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