The issue of contagious diseases in the region of Africa has always been an issue. For a long time, organizations have been seeking ways to communicate to travellers regarding outbreaks but a permanent solution has never really been found. Perhaps the cohesion of technology and communication has been the answer all along.
Safaricom has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Korea Telecom to launch a disease surveillance and awareness project that will enhance the country’s epidemic preparedness and control. The initiative, known as Safiri Smart will help to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as Yellow Fever, Plague and Cholera.
This launch was a major step taken by these companies to reduce the rising cases of the contagious disease by providing preventive and treatment options.
In 2019, Kenya saw an exponential rise in cases of outbreaks of Yellow Fever, Influenza and Cholera. The outbreaks were particularly notorious in Embu, Garissa, Kajiado, Kisumu, Machakos, Makueni, Mandera, Mombasa, Nairobi, Narok, Turkana, and Wajir counties. A lot of deaths were attributed to these contagious diseases and subsequently lowered productivity levels in the nation.
Stephen Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Safaricom, says the partnership hopes to help keep our communities safe and it is crucial to Safaricom in its quest to fulfilling the vision of transforming lives.
Safiri Smart not only notifies the subscribers about the epidemic but also includes a link to guidance on what to do if you happen to experience these signs and symptoms. This crucial information will go a long way in preventing the spread of the diseases as well as reducing instances of death due to the said diseases.
The platform is already operational in other African countries such as Ghana and Lagos, enabling citizens of the countries mentioned to get lead of any outbreaks or epidemic-prone areas and providing reports to the relevant officials when an outbreak occurs.
Kenya is a major transport hub in the region, and this has increased the chances of the spread of diseases. Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health Sicily Kariuki recognizes the importance of using mobile phones to promote public health. She is hopeful that the partnership will decrease disease surveillance in Kenya.
The initiative is in line with sustainable development goal number 3: Good health and well being, as stipulated by the United Nations.
While roaming, the subscriber will receive messages comprising of three components: a description of the disease, signs and symptoms, and linkage to an emergency operation centre in the event that they experience signs and symptoms at the end of the incubation period.
So just what does this mean for you as a consumer? If you choose to subscribe, you will be able to make informed decisions when it comes to travelling with regards to contagious diseases. You will track the countries that have outbreaks and consequently discover how to deal with the illnesses. In the case where a person has already contracted the disease, the application will also inform them on how to deal accordingly as well as the nearest health institutions.
The service is available to all Safaricom subscribers, even those who do not have smartphones. It is available to both postpay and prepay subscribers. A Safaricom subscriber can access Safiri Smart by dialling *265# on their mobile phones. More importantly, the service is free for all who have registered. Find out more about the terms and conditions here.