Isa Ari, Director of Economic Planning Department with the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, discussed the Mailafiya initiative and how it is “expanding the access to care in underserved regions” through a collaboration with Intel Health and the U.N.’s Millennium Development Health Goals to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
In this region we were told 87% of people live on less than $2/day and there are doctor/patient ratios of 1/1170 and 1/4470 in urban and rural areas respectively (69% of the country is rural). This presentation saddened me as it showed how a powerful foreign IT company will be supported pushing age old western technologies in Africa:
After living through the Nokia Decade (during which we didn’t reach those Millennium Development Goals) isn’t about time we started leveraging Africa’s tools?
Instead of these IT centric care pathways (that never made sense even in the worlds richest countries – never mind a region where healthcare is not even accessible to half the population!) why not let Africa start with a clean slate. Imagine the potential for innovation?
Whilst education would be a good start (Isa reported that only 63% of the population are literate – Nokia is already the worlds no1 foreign language provider) I think the most important thing to appreciate is that whatever is done needs to be done on the Mobile Phone: the ONLY DEVICE that breeches the digital divide and has MORE OWNERS in emerging markets.
(This illustration is made using statistics sourced from TomiAhonen Consulting 2009. If you would like to read Tomi Ahonen’s free 2 page thought piece on understanding mobile in the Developing World, please him an email at tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and he will send it to you by return email. I’ll leave you with a quote from his blog post discussing the emerging market mobile opportunity:
“If you intend to communicate with prospective customers in the Developing World today, then you cannot think of mobile as the ‘fourth screen’ and consider possibly including it in your communication mix, as we still can think in the Industrialized World, as a luxury today. No, in the Developing World mobile is the first screen – and obviously, for as many as 1.8 billion people – one quarter of the planet – it is the ONLY screen. These 1.8 billion people do not have a PC, not a TV, not even FM radio, but they have a live, active mobile phone account. Out of all 3 billion people in the Developing World who have some kind of connection, a massive 60% have no other way to connect, than their mobile phone!”
This blog post is part of a series of mHealth reviews from the 2nd Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit 2010. Click here to get the full review.