London — With innovative in-kind initiative, global telecommunications leader becomes newest GAVI Matching Fund partner, triggering US$ 1.5 match from the UK
The GAVI Alliance today launched a unique partnership with global telecommunications leader Vodafone, which has agreed to explore how mobile technology can help increase childhood vaccination levels in sub-Saharan Africa.
With access to mobile phones rapidly rising in the developing world, a significant opportunity exists for mobile technology to help healthcare providers increase 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.
"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," said GAVI CEO Seth Berkley, who announced the Vodafone partnership at the Mobile for Good Summit in London, where he spoke on GAVI's work through public-private partnership.
"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," Berkley added.
Broadband could transform lives
The in-kind gift from Vodafone - valued at US$ 1.5 million and matched by the United Kingdom through the GAVI Matching Fund - will support GAVI's goal to vaccinate an additional quarter of a billion children and avert four million deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2015.
"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," said UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening. "Britain is a proud partner in this innovative project. Opening up healthcare to people through their mobile phones will increase the take-up of basic treatments that many of us in the UK take for granted."
The three-year partnership makes Vodafone the eighth member of the GAVI Matching Fund, under which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and, in this case, the British Government's Department for International Development have agreed to match contributions to GAVI from corporations, foundations, their customers, employees, business partners and members to raise US$ 260 million for immunisation through 2015. The GAVI Matching Fund now has secured more than US$ 55 million in private sector gifts and donor matches.
Pilot to begin Mozambique
The partnership will explore how health ministries in GAVI-supported countries in sub-Saharan Africa can use mobile technology solutions to improve their immunisation programmes. It will draw on Vodafone's experience of developing commercial mobile health solutions in other countries.
Five thousand 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. Vodafone first will pilot the use of mobile technology for immunisation services in Mozambique.
"Vodafone is committed to investing in mobile technologies that can transform healthcare in both developed and emerging markets," said Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao. "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."