SMS for Life is an initiative that utilizes SMS messages sent weekly to bring a solution to the longstanding problem of stock-outs of important malaria drugs at the remote health facilities in Tanzania.
Every year malaria kills 800,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa. Out of these numbers the main victims are children under the age of five. The medic centers in Tanzania have a problem with running out of the anti-malaria drug when it is needed most. The facilities are only able to stock at the end of each quarter so when supplies run short those who need help are left on their own. If a person who has malaria does not receive treatment within 24 hours of the onset fever it can be fatal and the chance to help the patient decreases significantly. SMS for Life saw this problem and understood that they have the means to create a simple system that can sustain these medical centers and help the members of this community live to see another day. This initiative utilizes technology to fix the stock-outs and allow medical supplies be delivered when they are exactly needed. In 2009 to 2010 this initiative used Tanzania for a 21 week pilot test to figure out an effective method for making this system work. Utilizing partnerships and 129 health facilities, SMS for Life is now able to use SMS messages as an electronic mapping technology to facilitate accurate stocking to all district management in these health facilities on a weekly basis. The results from this pilot show that stock count data was provided in 95% of case on average with a very high response rate. When errors did occur about 7.5% on average were corrected and resent. When presented with the SMS for Life results Professor David Mwakyusa said, "I'm grateful for what you are doing for my country - I loose a child every five minutes which is a waste from a disease that is completely preventable. This is a great project and an innovation that I support very much, it's exciting to me."
The SMS for Life pilot took widely available SMS technology and implemented it in a way that was both simple but effective. When they combined their available resources with a public-private partnership model in a different country, a solution was found to combat this fatal disease. In this sense, SMS for Life shares the same values as Ucpsarnet and in their own way have contributed to the United Nations MGB's. SMS for Life is a testament to the power of utilizing partnerships and simple resources to make a bigger difference for the community.