With over 25 million mobile phone subscribers, Kenya is a leader in providing basic services through mobile phones (smartphones and of course ‘basic’ telephones that are able to send and receive SMS). A new startup, featured in a recent article in MIT’s Technology Review, is utilizing the country’s communication infrastructure to create a mobile health care network.
The main provider, Safaricom, has forged partnerships with medical authorities and doctors in order to develop MedAfrica, a medical assistance app that provides its 18 million subscribers with personalized access to doctors for two cents per minute. Users can also access vital healthcare information, including first aid procedures, health alerts, hospital updates and a list of doctors and dentists. Considering there are only 7,000 doctors in Kenya to tend to 40 million people, apps like MedAfrica are crucial to ensure that medical care is accessible to the masses.
Kenya’s example, driven by practicality and necessity, shows how digital is and will continue to be a driving force of progress, far beyond social and recreational needs. Many medical problems can be avoided if medical advice is delivered in time. This is yet another indicator that digital pragmatism will affect all sectors.
In many instances, existing infrastructures and our history will continue to be obstacles; however, it will only be a matter of time until this changes. In 80% of cases, the quality of service provided by digital applications will one day defeat the conservative die-hards and allow efforts to be concentrated on the remaining 20% for whom digital can’t help, whatever the sector.