President Jakaya Kikwete has hailed Zanzibar Telecommunication Company, Zantel, for their initiative to improve health services in the country.
Speaking to Etisalat Group Senior Vice-President (Commercial) and Zantel Chief Commercial Officer Ahmed Mokhles at the State House in Dar es Salaam recently, the president said the firm’s commitment to health improvement via mobile technology demonstrated an example of a socially responsible company.
The meeting was also attended by Minister for Communication, Science and Technology Prof Makame Mbawara and his Deputy Charles Kitwanga and other senior officials.
It was agreed during the meeting that the government and the company would work together on mutually beneficial endeavours for developing the livelihoods of Tanzanians.
Zantel, in cooperation with Etisalat, has launched an award-winning programme on M-health, referred to as Mobile Baby, which aims at delivering affordable primary healthcare solutions to even the remotest regions.
The M-health programme, which is also in line with the Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5), which seeks to reduce maternal mortality in childbirth by 75 per cent and deliver universal access to reproductive health by 2015, has already demonstrated tangible results in Tanzania, where there has been a 30-per cent drop in the baseline maternal mortality rate.
The M-health application when a mobile phone is equipped with a special software to help health workers structure not only single interactions with children but also maintain patient records and support extended care. It is structured to assist midwives to communicate to ensure safer deliveries for women.
Speaking on the occasion, Mokhles said Zantel believed M-health had the potential to transform health services in all its operations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, including Tanzania.
“By providing decision support tools to frontline health workers, combined with Etisalat’s extensive telecommunications portfolio, we can assist governments to extend the reach of the health system to the communities where people live,” he said.
The success of the M-Health programme is borne out by the fact that it has effectively removed geographical barriers between healthcare providers and patients since they can easily communicate via mobile phones.
Mokhles also explained about the company’s plan to partner with the government on the development of information communication technology (ICT), education and human resource sectors in the country.
"Zantel has invested heavily in coming up with new technologies that aim at revolutionising the telecommunication industry but more importantly, change people’s lives," he insisted.
Prof Mbawara commended Zantel for their move, saying it had come at the right time as the government was also making significant leaps in ICT development.