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SMS For Life

The SMS for Life initiative is a 'public-private' project that harnesses everyday technology to eliminate stock-outs and improve access to essential medicines in sub-Saharan Africa.

Program goals

The project aims to provide visibility of anti-malarial stock levels to support more efficient stock management using simple and widely available SMS technology.

Key program components

This project could have far-reaching beneficial implications for existing health systems. Stock-outs of any number of essential health commodities could be eliminated by this innovative process and enable timely tracking and management of supplies and their delivery to the communities where they are needed most. Novartis has teamed up with Roll Back Malaria, Vodafone and IBM to design, develop and implement the 'SMS for Life' pilot project in Tanzania to make sure all malaria patients have easy access to the life saving antimalarials (ACTs - Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy drugs) and Quinine Injectables when they need them.

This initiative uses a combination of mobile phones, SMS messages and electronic mapping technology to generate information on stock availability of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) and quinine injectables and deliver it on a weekly basis to all health facilities. This visibility is meant to eliminate stock-outs and ultimately result in reducing the number of deaths from malaria.

Results

The pilot project report concludes that while at the beginning 25% of all health facilities did not have any artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in stock, by the end, 95% had at least one ACT dosage form in stock. In addition, 888,000 people in the three pilot districts had access to all malaria treatments at the close of the pilot, versus 264,000 people at the start.