Using SMS Technology to Save Lives

© Unicef Tanzania/2015/Bisin
© Unicef Tanzania/2015/Bisin

24 February 2015, DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – Today, Tanzania’s Government, the United Nations (UN) and Push Mobile, a mobile communication company providing SMS aggregation services across all the available mobile networks in Tanzania, have sealed a partnership to reach over 10 million Tanzanian mobile users with life-saving information on Ebola. Through the partnership, Push Mobile commits to support the UN and the Government’s social mobilization efforts on Ebola. For a period of four months, the company will provide SMS push services to share information on Ebola.

As part of the agreement, Push Mobile and its UN and government partners will also provide ‘Information on Demand’ on Ebola: through this service, mobile users in Tanzania will be able to send the keyword ‘EBOLA’ to short code ‘15774’ and get free access to Ebola information.

“If an SMS can save lives, Push Mobile is committed to reaching as many mobile users in Tanzania as possible. Technology provides unique opportunities to boost Ebola preparedness and response activities. Through our partnership with the UN and the Ministry of Health, we hope to help communities acquire the knowledge needed to identify Ebola symptoms, to prevent and stop transmission of the virus”, Freddie Manento, Chief Executive Officer, Push Mobile, said about the partnership.

Over the past months, Ebola’s confirmed death toll has climbed past 9,000 with most deaths occurring in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. There have been over 23,000 reported cases of Ebola to date. Tanzania has a total of around 30 million mobile phone subscribers, representing a mobile penetration of 68 per cent.

“Partnering with the tech industry is a powerful way to raise awareness of Ebola in Tanzania,” said Mr. Alvaro Rodriguez, the UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania. “The outbreak has slowed across West Africa, and Tanzania has not yet been affected by the virus. But it would only take one infection for Ebola to threaten the lives of millions of people in the country. Joining hands with private sector, the UN is supporting the Government of Tanzania – through the Ministry of Health – to enhance preparedness and readiness for the unprecedented challenge that Ebola represents.”

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The Mission of the United Nations in Tanzania
The United Nations, in partnership with the Government and people of Tanzania, works to ensure that all Tanzanian people enjoy an increasingly healthy and prosperous life with greater human dignity and expanded choices. Collectively and through its individual agencies, the United Nations cares and creates opportunities for the poor and most vulnerable, and for youth, to whom the future belongs. In accordance with the United Nations Charter and Millennium Declaration, the United Nations advances the principles of equality and social justice, while providing impartial advice, technical expertise, access to global knowledge and local experience to meet Tanzania’s development challenges. Check our website to find out more: http://tz.one.un.org/

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Said Makora, Ministry of Health: saidmakora@gmail.com

Sandra Bisin, UNICEF, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships; UN Communication Group: sbisin@unicef.org

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