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Text messaging project fights malaria

Experts from various fields have united to provide more efficient distribution of malaria medicine.

This content was published on April 25, 2011 - 15:31
swissinfo.ch and agencies

A case study from the IMD International business school in Lausanne shows how the “SMS for Life” project uses text message technology to improve the supply chain for anti-malaria drugs in Tanzania.

“Supply chain difficulties within many African countries make it hard to get the drugs to the right place at the right time. The SMS for Life project saw a group of people from a number of different companies work together to solve this problem using SMS technology,” said IMD Professor and academic adviser Donald A. Marchand in a statement.

The project team included representatives from Basel-based drug company Novartis as well as experts from Vodafone, Google and IBM.

“SMS for Life” uses mobile phones, text messages and electronic mapping technology to track stock levels at public health facilities. This helps prevent stock-outs while increasing access to the medicine – and reducing the number of deaths from malaria.

To eliminate bureaucracy, the companies involved decided not to bother with contracts outlining who would do what, exactly. Instead, each partner agreed to provide their services for free and to cover their own costs.

“Executive programs at business schools are not only about making money and growing companies; they are also about doing the right thing,” Marchand said.

Monday is World Malaria Day – a day meant to raise awareness of the disease that kills a child every 30 seconds and about a million people every year.

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