Telecommunications operator, Orange, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have announced a new mHealth project in Côte d’Ivoire that will raise awareness of immunisation among parents and communities in regions with the lowest vaccine coverage.

The initiative, called M-Vaccin Côte d’ Ivoire, will be done in partnership with the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Health and will focus on 29 districts over a five year period.

The M-Vaccin Côte d’ Ivoire project uses Orange mobile technology to inform parents about the importance of vaccination by sending text and voice messages in the local language. Targeted messages will also help ensure parents don’t miss immunisation sessions by reminding them of their children’s schedule and dates.

Orange and Gavi will jointly invest US$ 5.47 million in the M-Vaccin project over the five year period. Half of this funding will come from the Gavi Matching Fund, a mechanism financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation designed to incentivise private sector investment in immunisation.

“This new partnership is truly innovative and important for the children of Côte d’Ivoire,” said CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr Seth Berkley.

“Parents often do not receive enough information about the importance of immunisation because they live a long way from health centres or in hard-to-reach places. These voice and text messages should therefore have a significant impact and lead to an increase in vaccine coverage,” continued Dr Berkley.

In addition to sending voice and text messages, Orange will provide health workers with an M-Vaccin mobile app. Through the app, the health workers will be able to accurately capture data from the communities and populations they are in contact with. They’ll also be able to create a personalised immunisation schedule for each family, which will improve monitoring and reduce the number of children who do not receive vaccines.

“The Orange Group is pleased to partner with Gavi and the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Health to make a concrete contribution to this large-scale vaccination programme. Orange is convinced of the power of digital tools to support the most isolated populations in Africa, both in the health sector and in other areas such as education and financial services,” said Deputy CEO of Orange Group in charge of operations in Africa and the Middle East, Bruno Mettling.

“Health is a priority for Orange, and the Group is playing an active part in developing the latest digital innovations and supporting healthcare players in achieving digital transformation,” continued Mettling.

“Thanks to this partnership between Orange, Gavi and the Ministry of Health, we hope to make a real impact on national coverage in these districts by sending targeted voice and text messages in local languages,” said Côte d’ Ivoire Minister of Health and Public Hygiene, Dr Raymonde Goudou Coffie.

“The Ministry of Health is working with partners like Gavi to keep those target populations better informed about the importance of vaccination. The solution, which will be made available to community health workers, will also make it possible to closely monitor pregnant women, children and to reduce the number of people lost to follow-up,” continued Dr Coffie.

According to a study carried out in 2015 by the Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI), the M-Vaccin programme should reach more than 800,000 children. It could also be extended to other countries in West Africa after an impact assessment.

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