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Swiss company Novartis has launched a new healthcare programme called SMS for Life 2.0 in Nigeria’s Kaduna State.

The technology-based programme aims to increase the availability of essential medicines in addition to improving care for patients across the region.

The joint public-private Roll Back Malaria Partnership SMS for Life 2.0 is led by Novartis and supported by its partners, the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Vodacom.

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said: "Companies must join forces with the public sector to co-create innovative solutions to improve access to healthcare around the world.

“This is the first step in what we hope will be an impactful public health initiative, unleashing the potential of mobile technology and big data to increase the quality of care for underserved patients."

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The new SMS for Life 2.0 programme will address key operational challenges at peripheral healthcare facilities in Kaduna State using smartphones and tablet computers.

"Companies must join forces with the public sector to co-create innovative solutions to improve access to healthcare around the world."

It can be used by local healthcare workers to track stock levels of essential anti-malarials, vaccines, and HIV, TB and leprosy treatments, and send notifications to district medical officers at a time when stock levels are low.

By monitoring surveillance parameters of malaria, maternal and infant deaths and seven other diseases, including measles, yellow fever and cholera, the programme will enable training of healthcare workers in local facilities using on-demand eLearning modules.

Novartis and its non-profit partner Right to Care have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zambian Ministry of Health to deploy SMS for Life 2.0 in up to 2,000 health facilities across Nigeria.

With support from Vodacom, the programme is expected to launch in the second quarter of next year.

Image: Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Photo: courtesy of Andrew from Flickr.