Mobile technology to improve access to essential medicines in Zanzibar

Thursday September 27 2018

Ministry of Health secretary Asha Ali Abdulla

Ministry of Health secretary Asha Ali Abdulla (seated right) and Nathan Mulure, representative of Novartis (seated centre) sign a contract to implement a ground-breaking initiative that will provide medicine stock visibility. SMS 4 Life aims at reducing stock-outs in Zanzibar. PHOTO|COURTESY 

By The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTZ

Zanzibar. Vodacom Tanzania PLC in partnership with Swiss-based healthcare company, Novartis, has joined forces with the Zanzibar’s ministry of Health to implement a technological initiative, which aims at reducing medicine stock-outs.

The mobile phone-based application called SMS for Life will monitor medicine stock levels through an electronic platform that operates in the sky, according to a statement issued on Thursday, September 27, 2018.

The SMS for Life technology will be deployed to around 190 government-owned health facilities across Unguja and Pemba to report weekly medicine stock levels, a move that will ensure that medicines are available.

The regular monitoring of stock levels reduces the chances of stock-outs.

“Clinics around Zanzibar often struggle to meet the demand of needed medicines. The new programme will address this challenge by providing innovative solutions that will help healthcare authorities improve their stock management,” said the deputy Minister for Health, Ms Harusi Said Suleiman.



“By rolling it out across Zanzibar, we will improve our island’s healthcare and patients’ quality of life.”


Vodacom and Novartis will be using the Mezzanine technology platform and provide training, thereby enabling the digital journey Zanzibar is embarking on.


Mr Nathan Mulure, Head of East and Southern African Cluster for Novartis Social Business, sees the agreement as an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to provide a real solution to challenges in healthcare.

“Supporting the Ministry of Health to improve the healthcare system in Zanzibar through projects like SMS for Life is a key part of our vision to improve healthcare across Africa. Through our partnership with Vodacom and its subsidiary company (Mezzanine), we can deliver innovative solutions to ensure healthcare systems meet the needs of patients,” he said.

Vodacom director for enterprise Arjun Dhillon said: “Innovating for health is one of the Vodacom Tanzania’s main focus areas. We are delighted to be able to leverage the platform developed by our subsidiary company (Mezzanine) to improve the health of people of Zanzibar. Through SMS for Life, remote health facilities will now be able to report stock levels proactively.”