Application developers and mobile service providers in Africa have neglected the health sectors, according to the continents major health service providers and mobile developers.
This follows 2012 East Africa Com conference that ended last week Wednesday in Nairobi. The conference brought together health provision stakeholders, application developers and Mobile service providers.
Speaking at the event, Jackie Owiti, Founder of MobApplic, a company that specializes in mobile health applications for Africa said mobile service providers are very rigid as they do not want to take up M-Health solutions since most of them generate revenues like mobile money.
Africa has made remarkable stints with regard to pioneering mobile money. It has drastically changed the way people carry out their day-to-day activities, having access to more financial services. However, the similar remark cannot be said of mobile health provision, also known as known as M-Health.
According to Owiti, mobile application developers come up with applications. However, mobile service providers have failed to take up the applications to their networks to enable people access m-health services.
Owiti said it is unfortunatepeople in Africa are dying on hospital lines or at home with mobile phones in their hands, a tool that could have been used to save many lives had M-Health been embraced more in Africa.
According to Balaji Srinivasan, Head-Marketing Kenya for Yu Mobile, provided mobile operators can cover the operating costs from the application provider to the end user thus enabling patients and hospitals to use these applications, m-health would pick up fast.
Africans are however ready to embrace M-Health solutions provided they are rolled out and made affordable. Safaricom, a top mobile service provider in Africa, recently partnered with Call-a-Doc, to launch Daktari 1525 service late last year.
Safaricom says the number of calls per day has shot up from 200 during the launch late last year to 1500 today.
Owiti told HumanIPO they make more M-Health services available by June this year via Orange Telkom Kenya.
“We are looking into partnerships that will make it easier for people to access mobile health services, and the first step is to partner with mobile service providers, followed by private hospitals and finally bringing the government on board,” Owiti said.
African governments have often faced challenges in affordable and quality health provision to the citizens, Owiti says, it is time they embraced technology to making the services more accessible.