Can messages delivered via mobile phones encourage more parents to have their children receive vaccinations across Africa.

A pilot program announced Monday will find out.

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) is teaming up with wireless service provider Vodafone in an effort to expand the reach of vaccinations across Africa.

Working with the Save the Children foundation, the two firms are launching a test program in Mozambique.

The firms believe that the proliferation of cellphones across the continent will help healthcare providers drive home the message of the importance of vaccines – and how to get them as well as where.

“Innovative technologies – whether mobile devices, medicines or vaccines – are helping to transform global health. Organisations such as UNICEF and GAVI have played a key role in making vaccines much more accessible in Africa but barriers still exist which stop children from benefiting from basic immunization,” said GSK Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty.

“This new partnership combines GSK’s expertise, knowledge and resources with those of Vodafone with the potential to deliver life-saving vaccines to tens of thousands more children in Mozambique,” he added. “Our hope is that together we will create a sustainable and scalable model which could ultimately be replicated to help more children live healthy lives across developing countries.”

Since becoming CEO at GSK, reaching out to developing countries for both improved public healthcare and in driving more business for GSK has been a major point of emphasis for Witty. 

According to GSK and Vodafone, the program has three key points:

  • “Mothers and caregivers will be registered on a Mozambique Ministry of Health database and alerted by SMS [short message service] to the availability and importance of lifesaving vaccinations against common childhood diseases. Mothers will be able to schedule vaccination appointments by SMS and receive notifications of past and future vaccinations to ensure children complete the full schedule and become fully immunized.
  • “Health workers will be provided with smartphones with software allowing them to contact mothers, view and record vaccination histories, schedule vaccinations and report on follow-up visits.
  • “Healthcare facilities will be prompted to regularly report on crucial vaccination stock levels by SMS. This will enable critical supply chain management and the availability of vaccines when and where they are needed, particularly in rural areas.”

GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP.

[GSK ARCHIVE: Check out 10 years of GSK stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]