Orange has announced the signature of two partnerships in Africa, which aim to harness the power of mobile networks to improve healthcare and health systems across Africa.
They include: a partnership with Text to Change, which aims to use SMS-technology to raise awareness and provide an alert system on child exploitation in Cameroon; and a partnership with mPedigree, which aims to develop an SMS-based system that enables people across Africa to verify the authenticity of their drugs, beginning with Kenya and Cameroon.
Working in collaboration with Orange subsidiaries across Africa and the Middle East, these partnerships illustrate the development of Orange Healthcare in the region, in line with the Group’s ambition to become the preferred telecoms partner in the field of e-health.
Through its partnership with Text to Change, Orange will provide technical support for healthcare-related operations in countries across Africa where Orange is present. Text to Change is a Dutch nongovernmental organisation that has led the way in using Mobile telephony to promote awareness of humanitarian and health-related issues.
It operates in collaboration with other NGOs, mobile network operators and other partners in the private sector based in countries across the developing world.
The first concrete application of this partnership will involve an SMS-based campaign to increase awareness of child exploitation in Cameroon. Working together with the CIPCRE (International Circle for the Promotion of Creation), Orange and Text to Change will launch a survey on child trafficking and sexual exploitation by sending SMS messages containing facts and questions to around 200,000 Orange
subscribers in western Cameroon. Feedback from the survey will then be used by the CIPCRE to broadcast a series of educational radio programmes on the issue aimed at challenging taboos surrounding this widespread problem.
In parallel, a free SMS reporting system will be set-up, allowing people to report cases of child abuse anonymously. This initiative, which is awaiting regulatory approval,
is due to start up in May 2011.
Through its agreement with mPedigree, a pan-African organisation operating through partnerships in the telecom, pharmaceutical and computing industries, Orange will participate in the fight against counterfeit medicines in African countries, beginning with Kenya and Cameroon, where up to 25% of drugs are potentially affected.
The initiative involves printing a unique verification code, which is hidden behind a
scratchable surface layer, on each packet or bottle of medicine. Patients can then submit this code via SMS in order to automatically check the authenticity of the drug against a database managed in Europe by mPedigree’s partners. Each request is free and takes only a few seconds to verify.
Orange will provide the telecom support for the service in its African markets when it becomes available, starting with operations in Kenya in the end of May 2011.
The agreements signed in April, 2011 mark the first steps of Orange’s healthcare division into Africa and the Middle East, where the Group is present in 20 countries and serves almost 60 million mobile customers. A significant proportion of Africans have limited access to television, radio or other media, but around 50% have access to a mobile phone. As a result mobile networks have huge potential for increasing education and awareness on health issues, as well as for providing efficient healthcare services through remote care or treatment support, and data collection.
Orange has acquired considerable experience in the healthcare field over the past 10 years. This was reinforced in 2007, with the creation of a specific business unit, Orange Healthcare. With its strong position as an integrated operator, Orange has the technological know-how to create synergies and offer a strategic vision of the healthcare system. Orange offers data and secure data transmission services to
professionals in health, telehealth, prevention and well-being thereby contributing to the development of a more efficient healthcare system.