Kenyans will soon be able to get information on diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and epilepsy on their mobiles phones through a partnership by Safaricom, the Ministry of Health, and five associations that create awareness and support patients and families with the diseases.
The information platform, called Fafanuka, will be launched in a few weeks, and will see the Kenya Cardiac Society, Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations (KENCO), Kenya Association for the Welfare of People with Epilepsy (KAWE), Kenya Diabetes Management & Information Centre (DMI), and Non-Communicable Siseases Alliance in Kenya (NCDAK) generate ailment-specific content for distribution through mobile phones.
Such information is necessary to create awareness and sensitise Kenyans on preventable or treatable diseases.
For instance, four in five cancer cases in the country are diagnosed late or at an incurable stage, largely because of lack of information or misdiagnosis of symptoms. Lack, and uneven distribution, of cancer diagnosis and treatment facilities, personnel, and equipment also plague treatment of the disease that claims 60 Kenyans daily.
E-learning and information for citizens is one of the pillars in Kenya’s e-health strategy. The others are m-health, telemedicine, and health information systems.
In Advancing Bottom of Pyramid Access to Healthcare, a case study on mobile money platforms by the UN, researchers found that mobile phones in Kenya provide “a means to scale up inclusive business models and access to health care, especially among low-income Kenyans”.
Other mobile-based health programmes include Sema Doc, where a user pays Sh300 per month for mobile access to “medical doctors 24/7, a health account dedicated to help you save for medical expenses, access to instant health loans, and a Sh5,000 hospital cash benefit,” according to its website.