Using mobile phone text messages (SMS), we can advocate as widely as possible the importance of making sure that children are vaccinated, and also benefit many areas of public health and basic social services by providing early warning systems for outbreaks or public health emergencies, self-monitoring and for other health promotion issues.
For example, in 2009, the Zambian Ministry of Health and UNICEF joined together with two of the country’s leading mobile phone companies, MTN and ZAIN, to spread the message about vaccinations and other key interventions. The campaign focused on polio prevention in 28 districts bordering Angola, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It is about time that we used modern technology to ensure child health and this year is particularly important because of the polio prevention campaign,” said UNICEF Zambia Representative, Lotta Sylwander. “We are grateful that MTN and ZAIN have agreed to assist free of charge in sending mobile phone messages to millions of their subscribers.”
The text messages encouraged parents to bring their children under the age of five to their nearest health centers during the Child Health Week. For example, one of the messages said: “Your child can be healthier! Take your children under age five to the nearest health centre for free vaccinations from 20-25 July.”