The GSMA, the group of mobile operators and companies dedicated to standardising mobile phone communications,  has unveiled a Mobile for Development mHealth programme, which will provide various mHealth health care services to women and children across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The list of partners involved includes tech companies like Gemalto, Samsung and MTN, along with health specialists  Hello Doctor, Lifesaver, Mobenzi, Mobilium and Omega Diagnostics. Initially, the program will focus on maternal and child health in seven countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. A second phase planned for next year includes Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

From the press release:

“This new mobile ecosystem partnership, developed by the GSMA, is committed to connecting the mobile and health industries to develop commercially sustainable mHealth services that meet public health needs,” said Tom Phillips, the Chief Regulatory Officer of GSMA, said in a press statement, “The companies in this partnership are working to deliver the objectives of the United Nations Every Women Every Child Global Strategy, as well as the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact, in the areas of nutrition and maternal and child health. We call on mobile ecosystem players, health providers, governments, NGOs, civil society and others to work with us to launch life-saving mobile health services.

The main thrust of the initiative appears to be subsidised Samsung phones and tablets with free data connections via MTN. Where it gets interesting is in the embedded apps for healthcare promised, and discounted accessories such as monitors that attach to phones to test the CD4 count of HIV sufferers in the field – something that cuts down on weeks of lab time.

It’s intriguing news and one of the most ambitious plans to use mobile phones for health we’ve heard of yet. We’ll be following up in due course.

[Image – Shutterstock]