9 December 2015

Tanzania: Alerts on Cholera Now on Phones

Dar es Salaam — About 10 million Tanzanian mobile phone users will have access to life-saving information on cholera, an acute diarrhea disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, thanks to a partnership signed yesterday in Dar es Salaam.

The government of Tanzania, United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and Push Mobile signed the agreement under which the latter committed to support the UN body and the state's social mobilisation efforts on cholera.

In a joint statement to the media, they said for a period of four months, the technology company will be providing short messages (SMS) services to share information on cholera.

As part of the agreement, they will also provide 'Information on Demand' on cholera. Through the service, mobile users in Tanzania will be able to send the keyword 'Cholera' - or 'Kipindupindu' for the Swahili service - to the short code '15774' to get free access to information on the disease.

"We are supporting Unicef and the government to rise to the challenge of stemming the tide of cholera," said Mr Freddie Manento, the Push Mobile chief executive officer.

Mr Manento said he was proud to see Push Mobile forming part of the innovative campaign, which is harnessing the power of technology, partnership and innovation to save people's lives.

The partnership is expected to help communities acquire the knowledge needed to identify cholera symptoms, and ways to treat cholera, to prevent and stop transmission of the disease.

Tanzania is battling a major cholera outbreak, which has so far affected nineteen regions in the Mainland and Isles.

The outbreak started in Dar es Salaam, in mid-August 2015, and has progressively extended to nineteen regions of Tanzania, stretching local capacities and resources, with a high risk in terms of lives and economic impact.

The number of reported cases of Cholera has climbed to over 11,500 and claimed over 150 lives in Tanzania. The country has a total of around 30 million mobile phone subscribers, representing a mobile penetration of 68 per cent.

Unicef representative Paul Edwards said it is the second time to team up with Push Mobile on a life-saving communication intervention, adding that the UN body valued the tech company's responsiveness.

"This is a race against the clock to save lives. Technology here is helping us to speed up vital information-sharing on cholera, how to prevent it, what the symptoms are and how to treat it, which is critical to limiting contamination and rapidly containing the illness," he said.

Tanzania

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