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UNICEF launches SMS for Life with Mcel and Ministry of Health

UNICEF launches SMS for Life with Mcel and Ministry of Health
© UNICEF Mozambique/2013/Emidio Machiana
From left to right are Teodato Hunguana, Chair of the Board (Mcel), Dr. Mouzinho Saíde (MISAU) and Dr. Emanuele Capobianco (UNICEF)

Maputo, 27 March 2013UNICEF signed today a partnership agreement with the major national mobile telecommunications provider Mcel and the Ministry of Health (MISAU), which would see all Mcel mobile telephone subscribers receive Facts for Life text messages once a month.

The “SMS for Life” project uses innovative technology to help MISAU raise public awareness and knowledge around best practices that prevent disease, injuries and violence against children, and around the importance of using health facilities. This three-year project contributes to national efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality rates and improve maternal health.

“As part of the national health plan, the Ministry of Health has included the use of mobile and SMS solutions in health promotion programmes. We believe that taking full advantage of these technologies will help improve people’s awareness around basic health care and child protection issues,” said National Director for Public Health Dr. Mouzinho Saide.

For this initiative, Mcel is providing its SMS platform free of charge, sending bulk Facts for Life messages, including as part of its pre-paid top-up and Mbip (“please call me”) services. The number of messages sent every month may increase in the event of a humanitarian emergency or epidemic.

“Mcel, as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives, has an interest in developing technology with wider community benefit. This particular project will allow more than 5 million of our customers to benefit from information related to public health care, and can therefore help improve quality of life", said Mcel Chairperson Teodato Hunguana.  

Although the use of mobile phones is still far from universal in Mozambique, the number of subscribers is increasing and covers practically all social groups, from opinion makers to child caregivers in vulnerable families and communities. The information and knowledge being shared through this project has the potential of reaching beyond the immediate target group to those living and interacting with Mcel network subscribers.

“This is a very good example of an innovative and strategic public-private partnership, and of the crucial role the private sector can play in offering its means and resources to support national public health and child rights promotion”, said UNICEF Officer-in-Charge Emanuele Capobianco. “We are looking forward to the success of this project and to seeing it replicated in other areas where mobile technology can make a difference.”

Over the past years, UNICEF has advocated for child-focused corporate social responsibility policies, promoting partnerships that help advance children’s rights in the country.

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Nakell, UNICEF Mozambique
Tel: +258 82 312 1820; Email: pnakell@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; 
email: maputo@unicef.org

 

 
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