Multinational pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi, has become the sole pharmaceutical partner to join the diabetes arm of the Be Healthy, Be Mobile mHealth programme led by the WHO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The mHealth initiative, which was launched in 2012, uses mobile technology to help prevent and treat non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases in low- and middle-income countries.

On the new partnership, ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said: “With nearly seven billion mobile subscriptions worldwide today, harnessing the potential of mobile devices to address global challenges, such as healthcare, is now within reach.

“The participation of Sanofi in Be Healthy, Be Mobile highlights the significance of investing in technologies which already sit in people’s pockets, empowering them to manage their own health. mHealth is an opportunity to create a continuum of care from prevention advice to disease support,” continued Zhao.

The Be Healthy, Be Mobile mDiabetes programme piloted last year in Senegal during the month of Ramadan to help diabetics manage the disease during fasting. Approximately 80,000 SMS messages were sent to approximately 3,500 participants. A second phase took place over a six-week period that ran until January 2015, which involved further one-way SMS messaging sent daily.

The next phase of mDiabetes will involve ‘two-way’ SMS messaging, involving reminders to patients on topics such as their blood glucose levels and food intake. Sanofi plans to launch the initiative this month, and expects it to run for at least three months so that the initiative can be more ‘clinically ambitious’ with the data generated.

Executive Vice President at Sanofi Global Divisions & Strategic Development, Pascale Witz, said: “Becoming the strategic partner in ITU’s mDiabetes initiative is a natural step in Sanofi’s pledge to take a leading role in delivering meaningful advancements for people living with diabetes.”

“Together, with governments, policy makers and other private companies at the forefront of global health and innovation, we aim to support the harnessing of mobile and other technologies to enable learning and positive action among people who are affected by diabetes in our increasingly connected world,” continued Witz.

Other partners for the overall Be Healthy, Be Mobile initiative include Bupa, Verizon, The World Lung Foundation, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance, Novartis and GSK.

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